BI’s Reforms Bearing Fruit

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The relentless efforts of the Bureau of Immigration to pursue its general functions have come to fruition.As the primary enforcement arm of the Department of Justice and the President of the Philippines in ensuring that all foreigners within its territorial jurisdiction comply with existing laws, and assisting local and international law enforcement agencies to secure the tranquility of the state against foreigners whose presence or stay may be deemed threats to national security, public safety, public morals and public health, it showed its fervent determination to fulfill its mandate for the administration and enforcement of immigration, citizenship laws and the admission of foreigners in the Philippines through its “Bad Guys Out, Good Guys In (BGOGGI)” Campaign.

Through this campaign, undesirable aliens, especially fugitives, terrorists, sex offenders and the like are inevitably excluded/denied entry in the country, while foreigners who have violated Philippine immigration laws or any other statutes face deportation proceedings. Commissioner Siegfred Mison said there will be no let-up in the BI’s campaign against human trafficking because the syndicates involved do not stop in “exploiting the vulnerabilities of our poor countrymen.”

Mison said they will continue to offload suspected victims of human trafficking so long as there are Filipinos who are subjected to involuntary servitude and abusive working conditions abroad.

Ten Russian nationals who were invited by Bureau of Immigration (BI) operatives last year in Cebu on suspicion of being undocumented aliens have voluntarily left the country recently.

“We have given them due process by deleting their names in the hold departure list after the resolution of the deportation case,” Bureau Commissioner Siegfred Mison explained. Mison added that “there is no evidence of fraud or being misled to sign their request for voluntary deportation so that the Bureau also refunded the cash bonds.”

In the spirit of diplomatic and friendly relations between the Philippines and Russia, the BI also granted the appeal of the Embassy of the Russian Federation who assured that the arrested Russians are “good citizens that will always carefully observe the Philippine laws and traditions.”

It can be recalled that the BI launched the alien mapping program early last year to keep track of the influx of foreigners in the country and check the status of their stay. The foreigners were apprehended by a BI task force while allegedly working at a travel agency in Lapu-Lapu City without the required visa on November 5 last year.

However, only six were seen working inside the travel company while the other four were reportedly guests of the latter. They reportedly violated the limitation and conditions of their stay as a temporary visitor.

Also, in line with Commissioner Siegfred B. Mison’s “Good Guys In, Bad Guys Out” policy in weeding out undesirable aliens, the Bureau has deported 44 unwanted aliens from the country.

Immigration violations committed by these deported aliens range from overstaying, undocumented, conviction of crimes, working without visa/permits, and fugitives from justice, etc. Out of these 44 deportees, 4 were fugitives from justice from their respective countries who were arrested by the Bureau by virtue of mission orders pursuant to Executive Order No. 287 (s-2000).

With the Bureau’s relentless campaign against undesirable aliens hiding in the country, Commissioner Mison gave a stern warning to these fugitives that they cannot forever hide from the long arm of the law of this country and soonest they will be deported.

Meanwhile, Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Siegfred B. Mison issued again yesterday a stern warning against foreigners caught trying to enter the country with spurious immigration stamps following the confinement of two foreign nationals at the airport recently. Mison said Ghana and Ethiopia nationals were denied entry to the country after immigration personnel at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport discovered that their visas and travelling documents are spurious and fake.

Dana Krizia Mengote, a member of the travel control and enforcement unit, denied admission to Sofia Zeinu Ali at the NAIA Terminal 2, who arrived via Philippine Airlines from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, claiming for a holiday in the Philippines. When asked of her purpose, she merely shook her head and she claimed she doesn’t understand English. Upon inspection of her travel documents, the immigration officers found it has numerous cuts, blurry and detected counterfeit “Schengen” visa.

“The Philippine border security should not be taken lightly”, said Mison adding that the Philippines will not serve as a transit hub for foreigners with counterfeit visa stamps.

Also, a Ghanaian national named Anderson Adua Abalem was intercepted at the airport’s arrival area upon disembarking from Philippine Airlines originating from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Abalem is on transit to Vancouver, Canada. Upon inspection, the passenger presented a Republic of Ghana passport with a V-1 multiple Canada sticker visa. However, Ma. Ruby Fontejon, supervisor of the travel control and enforcement unit, found out that the V-1 sticker was fake.

A representative at the Canada Border Services Agency and first secretary of the Canadian Embassy inspected Abalem’s travel documents and confirmed they were really counterfeit.

Both foreign nationals are recommended to be included in the bureau’s blacklist.

Armed with the fresher P601 million 2014 budget, the public can expect more reforms and new programs at the Bureau of Immigration (BI). Commissioner Siegfred B. Mison said this additional budget will allow them to vastly improve its services to foreign nationals and tourists particularly their priority measures and programs that will “change the bureau’s image.” He revealed that half of this year’s budget will be spent in reform measures among immigration personnel to prevent them from conspiring to commit corruption. It will also be spent in upgrading the agency’s services and continuous training for its personnel.

Mison said they will complete the automation of the bureau’s services to eliminate human intervention and the modernization of their information technology systems as well as their surveillance systems in all airports and seaports throughout the country.

Mison intimated that the bureau’s revenue for 2013 reached P2, 985,641,950,  BI’s highest since its creation in 1940. He credited the record collection of immigration tax and non-tax fees to improved and expedited services to foreigners at its main and satellite offices.

Tax collection totaled P72, 869,666; non-tax charges including services, fines and penalties amounted to P2, 853,188,665 and ACR I-Card fees reached P130, 107,777.

Mison, at the same time, noted that the bureau has received the highest percentage increase in appropriated funds for fiscal year 2014.

The BI, which is among ten Department of Justice (DOJ) attached agencies, has an approved budget of P650,677 million under the 2014 General Appropriations Act (Republic Act 10633).

Mison said the BI 2014 budget, which reflects a 14.48 percent or P356 million increase, from last year’s P568 billion, will be devoted to the upgrading BI’s border control system. The bureau is set to purchase P70 million worth of computer and equipment, including biometric machines, under its modernization and automation program.

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