THE Bureau of Immigration (BI) assured the thousands of Filipino Muslims who are planning to attend the Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia next month of expeditious and hassle-free immigration processing upon their departure from the airport.
In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Norman Tansingco said he issued an operations circular streamlining the BI’s procedures in processing the departing Haj pilgrims.
Tansingco said more than 7,000 Filipino Muslims are expected to join this year’s Haj pilgrimage, thus the need for the BI to adopt measures that will facilitate their speedy and unhampered departure.
“This is our way of extending support and courtesy to our Muslim brothers who are embarking on this pilgrimage which is considered as one of Islam’s most sacred and important religious events,” Tansingco added.
Among others, the BI circular directs the bureau’s airport terminal heads to designate focal persons who will coordinate with officials of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) in obtaining an advance list of passengers who will be traveling to Mecca for the pilgrimage.
The BI will then subject passengers in the list to advance derogatory checking and verify if any one of them are subjects of hold departure orders or watchlist orders.
A special lane for the Haj pilgrims will also be designated by the BI in the different airports to ensure that they are quickly processed by immigration officers before their departure.
The BI focal persons were also instructed to establish lines of communication with their counterparts from the NCMF so they can jointly address whatever problems may arise or may be encountered by the pilgrims regarding their travel.
Members of the BI’s border and control and intelligence unit (BCIU) were ordered to assist the pilgrims in queuing at the airport’s immigration departure counter prior to their flights.