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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Philippine Entry Visa Not an Entry Guarantee to Philippines


The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has reminded foreigners that possession of a Philippine entry visa is not a guarantee that its holder will be automatically admitted into the country.

Immigration Commissioner Ricardo David Jr. made the statement following complaints from some members of the Filipino-Chinese community about the alleged excesses of BI officials in preventing the entry of arriving Chinese tourists with valid visas at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

He explained that a visa imprinted on a foreigner's passport merely authorizes the bearer to present himself for admission to an immigration officer in a Philippine port of entry. "It denotes that the visa application of the visa holder has been properly examined by a consular officer at a Philippine post abroad," he said.

He stressed that the decision to admit a foreign national into the Philippines is the primary function of immigration officers at the port of entry, adding that it is an international practice adopted by all countries throughout the world. "Thus, no foreigner who holds a Philippine visa can invoke his right or privilege to enter the country. He still has to pass inspection or assessment by our immigration officers who will determine and decide if he should be admitted," David said.

"If upon inspection and profiling a foreigner is found to be improperly documented or is deemed as likely to become a public charge or a threat to national security, public health and safety, he will be excluded," David said. The official clarified that in most cases the immigration officers involved in preventing the entry of foreigners did not abuse their discretion but only did their job because the aliens they excluded were profiled as public charges.

Basically, an arriving foreign tourist is deemed a public charge if he cannot explain his purpose in visiting the country, does not have hotel accommodation, return ticket and does not have sufficient funds to support his stay. On allegations that some immigration officers have been extorting money from tourists, David again challenged the accusers to name names so that those responsible could be punished and dismissed from the service.

"These sweeping allegations of corruption by our airport personnel without the culprits being pinpointed have only besmirched our bureau to the detriment of those who are uprightly doing their job as gatekeepers of our country," he said.

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