In this file photo, travelers line up at immigration counters at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
Immigration on heightened alert for SEA Games, holiday rush
Kristine Joy Patag ( - November 22, 2019 - 2:35pm

MANILA, Philippines — Immigration agents are on heightened alert in preparation for the swelling of travellers for the South East Asian Games and holiday rush, the bureau said Friday.

In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said that the bureau is “expecting up to 3% increase in arrivals and departures this holiday season.”

For December 2018, the bureau’s records showed that more than 1.5 million passengers arrived in the country while more than 1.2 million left. Morente said the expected travellers are overseas Filipino workers and Filipinos living abroad coming home to celebrate Christmas.

For the upcoming SEA Games, the Immigration is expecting 8,000 delegates that include athletes, media, technical volunteers, fans and audiences.

With the anticipated influx of travellers, the Immigration's Port Operations Division Chief Grifton Medina said that the bureau is enforcing a “No Leave, No Absences” policy during the SEA Games and holiday rush.

“Our men have been instructed not to go on leave during the peak season to maximize our manpower,” Medina said.

He also noted the installation of e-gates at airports which can lessen processing to at least eight seconds.

The bureau has recently added 600 Immigration officers to their ranks.

Long lines at Mactan airport

Medina also reminded travellers to arrive at the airports early, at least three hours before the flight.

He also appealed passengers to “bear with build-ups” in airports. This came after a video of long lines at the Mactan Cebu International Airport made rounds on social media.

The ports division chief said that it was an isolated incident. “Sudden build-ups sometimes happen especially when there are delayed flights that arrive simultaneously, as in the case of the viral video,” Medina explained.

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