SHOULD plans push through, the age-old use of manual stamping of passports for arriving and departing passengers will be a thing of the past for the Bureau of Immigration (BI).
It was learned that a team of BI officers, led by BI chief of ports operation division Marc Red Marinas, NAIA Terminal 3 BI-Travel Control Enforcement Unit (TCEU) head Den Binsol, NAIA 2 I-TCEU head Bien Guevarra and NAIA 1 BI-TCEU head Glenn Comia, is recommending an upgrade of the BI processing system which is aimed at eradicating syndicates that use fake BI stamps.
The recommendation came amid pronouncements by BI Commisioner Jaime Morente directing the BI officers to ensure that they will do everything for the convenience and hassle-free travel of passengers especially at the premier NAIA Terminals.
Marinas said Morente welcomes all kinds of recommendations and suggestions as long as they redound to the benefit of the bureau and its operations.
It was learned that based on their recent visit to Canada to study the BI processes there, the group of Marinas, who was then with BI deputy commissioner Al Argosino, saw a more fool-proof way of stamping the passports of arriving and departing passengers, by doing away with the manual stamp and instead, using a machine where a traveler would just have to insert his passport. The said machine will then put on the stamp, which is not visible to the human eye but only through the said machine.
In the case of Filipino travelers, a card will be used and after a thorough verification, the entry point will open up and allow him through. Marinas said that in order to ensure that no ‘fake Filipinos’ will gain entry, ample BI personnel will still be around to do profiling.
While the upgrade will be costly, estimated to cost millions of pesos, it will ensure a more accurate and faster processing of passengers and help eradicate the use of fake BI stamps.
It was learned that last year alone, some 400 passengers were busted with fake BI stamps on their passports, although most, if not nearly all of them, passed through the so-called ‘backdoor.’