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155 BI personnel deployed in preparation for Holy Week exodus —spox

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Friday said it has deployed 155 immigration officers to the country's airports in preparation for throngs of vacationers during the Holy Week.

"Tayo po ay nagdagdag ng tauhan. 155 immigration officers have been deployed dito po sa mga paliparan natin para masigurado po na fully manned ang ating mga counters," BI spokesperson Dana Sandoval told Dobol B TV.

(We increased manpower. We deployed 155 immigration officers to our airports to ensure that our counters will be fully manned.)

According to Sandoval, Immigration Commissioner Norman Tansingco is closely monitoring the situation and even conducted inspections at airports on Thursday.

Sandoval said BI frontliners were also temporarily prohibited from taking their vacations to maximize the bureau’s manpower.

"Temporarily po 'yung mga frontliners po natin hindi po muna puwedeng magbakasyon, ipagpaliban po muna yung mga bakasyon nila after po the peak season para ma maximize po ‘yung manpower natin sa ating paliparan," she said.

(Our frontliners are temporarily not allowed to take vacations. They must defer their vacations after the peak season so we can maximize the manpower in our airports.)

P150K 'escort' service

Meanwhile, in the same interview, Sandoval said the bureau is coordinating with seafarer JC Manganti who said he was asked to pay at least P150,000 in exchange for assistance in boarding his plane after he was offloaded.

Manganti was supposed to go on a vacation in Paris, France on August 7, 2022, but he was offloaded or not permitted to board the plane by the BI at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

“We do not take this lightly kaya kami po ay nakikipag ugnayan din doon sa victim para malaman po yung particulars nitong kasong ito,” Sandoval said.

“Para maimbestigahan po natin if this person na nangloloko po sa kanya is an Immigration employee, saan po assigned, at kung ano ang mga detalye ng kasong ito para masampahan po natin ng appropriate charges kung sino po yung may kagagawan nito,” she added.

(This is to investigate if the person is an Immigration employee, where they are assigned, and the details of the case so we can file the appropriate charges to the one responsible.)

Small percentage

Despite this, Sandoval stressed that the number of people prevented from boarding their planes is “really a small percentage.”

She said only around 0.6 of total departures are not allowed to board.

“Siguro po it might be a misconception because of the recent case po nung mga issues na ‘yan. Naha-highglight rin po ‘yung ilan po sa hindi napayagan, but it’s really a small percentage,” Sandoval said.

(This might be a misconception because of the recent case of such issues. Those not allowed to board are being highlighted, but it’s really a small percentage.)

“Hindi naman po lahat naga-undergo ng secondary inspection. The regular tourists po wala pong kailangan alalahanin or problemahin kapag sila po ay aalis,” she later added.

(Not everyone undergoes secondary inspection. The regular tourists do not have anything to worry about if they are leaving the country.)

Another passenger recently went viral on social media after revealing that she failed to catch her flight to Israel in December 2022 due to a lengthy interview at the immigration counter.

Sandoval called for mutual respect from passengers and BI officers, saying that some passengers have displayed a “violent attitude” toward some officers.

“So what we are requesting po sana is mutual respect. the officer is required and is expected to respect our passengers. And at the same time po, like human beings, we can also respect each other,” she said. —KBK, GMA Integrated News