by Robie de Guzman, 29 Oct 2019
MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has placed on heightened alert its personnel at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and other ports in the country ahead of the anticipated increase in the volume of passengers arriving and departing during the Undas break.
In a statement, the bureau said it expects roughly the same percentage of increase in passenger arrivals and departures as the past two years.
“There was a 6.3% increase of arrivals from 2017 to 2018 during Undas, and we also saw a 10% increase of departures in the same period,” BI port operations division chief Grifton Medina said.
He, however, assured the public that “lines will remain manageable” despite the surge, attributing it to additional manpower and use of electronic gates in airports.
Apart from the influx of passengers during Undas, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said their personnel was also directed to be alert to prevent human trafficking syndicates from taking advantage of the holiday.
Citing intelligence reports, Morente said, international human smuggling syndicates might use the occasion to again use Manila “as a transit point for illegal aliens who want to enter countries where they want to settle and work illicitly.”
Morente directed Medina to make sure that immigration officers will be extra careful and meticulous in the screening of arriving and departing passengers and to not be distracted by the volume of travelers during holidays.
“They were instructed to always practice what they have been trained to do and that is to implement to the letter our rules and regulations on the conduct of immigration formalities for travelers who enter and exit our ports,” Medina said.
He added that strict departure formalities will also be conducted to prevent trafficking victims from leaving while arriving foreigners will be thoroughly screened to make sure their visas and travel documents are valid.
BI’s travel control and enforcement unit is responsible for explaining that detecting human trafficking victims and illegal aliens. It is assisted by the border control and intelligence unit which performs intelligence and counter-intelligence duties, including intercepting and apprehending fugitives and other persons with a derogatory record who might try to enter or flee the country.