BI to get to bottom of ‘escort service’ at NAIA

MANILA The Bureau of Immigration (BI) is currently investigating the apparent "escort service" that its officers accord to Chinese nationals at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

The Department of Justice recently ordered a probe of BI officers for allegedly escorting Chinese nationals, who would apparently work illegally in Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs).

POGOs are believed to be paying thousands of pesos for the entry of every Chinese hire, according to reports.

"We will get to the bottom of this, whether the BI or some (other) offices are involved," said BI Port Operations Division chief Grifton Medina, in an exclusive interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Tuesday.

He added that the BI is not tolerating any illegal act, and that it prohibits escorting.

"One would see in the CCTV if there are instances an officer would fetch someone. In the first place, they (officers) are not allowed to stand and leave their counters," he said.

Medina said that among Immigration officers, only those in the TCEU (Travel Control and Enforcement Unit) are allowed to fetch people. These people, he emphasized, are diplomats and government officers on official travel.

The official noted that immigration officers would accept the Chinese, or anyone, as long as they have visas and other qualified documents, such as return tickets or proof of financial capability.

"What are the instances that we exclude the Chinese? For example, they don't have a return ticket, they don't have a lodging here. These are red flags that they may be illegal workers," he explained.

Also, the premise, he said, is that the Philippines is becoming a tourist hub among Koreans, Americans and Chinese. The BI projects that Chinese would surpass the number of American arrivals this year, according to Medina.

He explained, "How can we know if the Chinese have an intention to work here illegally? If he or she has presented the required documents, how can we know? If ever they have friends who would eventually encourage them to work illegally, how could an immigration officer know?"

"By all means, we will get into the bottom of this, and find out the real personnel fetching (the arriving passengers," he reiterated.

Less than 20 immigration officers are currently under investigation.

Apart from CCTV footages, the BI is also gathering other necessary proofs like documents and witnesses, if any.

Medina also noted that when it comes to escort services, the public's assumption is that BI officers are the ones doing this.

"There are other personnel at the airport. Just because the BI (officers) guard the border gates doesn't mean they are the ones involved in the act," he said. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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