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BI braces for foreign tourist arrivals

February 1, 2022 Jun I. Legaspi 311 views

THE Bureau of Immigration (BI) said its officers at the airports are bracing for an influx of arriving international passengers following the government’s decision to reopen the country to foreign tourists beginning February 10, 2022.

“We are ready and we have the available manpower to address this projected increase in passenger volume in our airports,” Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said in a statement.

Morente also reported a sharp decline in the number of immigration officers who are still infected with the COVID-19 virus.

He said that as of Monday, 401 BI personnel, most of them assigned at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), who earlier tested positive for the virus or have gone on isolation and quarantine have already returned to work.

“We continue to operate at full capacity in the airports as we anticipate an increase in international flights and passengers in the next few weeks,” the BI chief added.

Lawyer Carlos Capulong, BI port operations chief, bared that as of Jan. 31 only 23 immigration officers assigned in the airports are still recovering from COVID-19.

Capulong said 14 immigration officers are stationed at the NAIA, four at the Clark airport, two in Mactan, two in Kalibo, and one in Davao.

“To cope with a sudden or unusual increase in passenger volume we have formed a reserve team of immigration officers from other BI officers who will be tapped to augment and assist our frontliners at the airport if the need arises,” Capulong said.

Under the latest resolution issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID), fully-vaccinated foreign tourists coming from countries under EO408 are again allowed to enter the country without a visa for 30 days.

The BI advised the airlines and the traveling public to view the updated guidelines on the bureau’s website and Facebook page.