BI stops entry of 37 foreign travelers

Robertzon Ramirez - The Philippine Star
BI stops entry of 37 foreign travelers
Photo taken on Feb. 16 shows tourists on the white sand beach of Boracay island in Malay, Aklan. The provincial government has eased travel requirements going to Boracay. Fully vaccinated travelers need only to show proof of inoculation to enter the world-famous resort island.
Krizjohn Rosales

MANILA, Philippines — At least 37 foreign tourists were barred entry by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) in the first week of the country’s reopening of its borders to foreign travelers.

Immigration spokesperson Dana Sandoval said yesterday that while fully vaccinated foreigners from visa-free countries have been welcome since Feb. 10, arriving passengers who violated Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) guidelines were not allowed entry.

“Thirty-seven all in all for non-compliance with IATF guidelines,” Sandoval said in a Viber message when asked about the number of foreigners who have since been denied entry into the country.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente reminded airline companies to ensure that only eligible foreigners are permitted to board their flights bound for the Philippines.

Morente said that it is the responsibility of airline companies to ensure that foreigners boarding their flights to the Philippines are following IATF guidelines particularly on the vaccination requirement.

Sandoval said that in the first week of the reopening, the influx of foreign travelers was manageable and within the BI’s expected 8,000 arriving foreign passengers weekly, more than double the number prior to Feb. 10.

“We are expecting this number to gradually increase, perhaps as high as 10,000 to 12,000 per day after a few months,” she said.

2 Koreans to be deported

In another development, Morente said wanted South Koreans Kim Youngsoo, 38, and Choi Youngsoo, 38, who were arrested by BI agents in Barangay Baudago, Angeles City on Valentine’s Day, are set for deportation.

Morente said that a deportation order against Kim and Choi was already issued by the BI Board of Commissioners in 2015 after the South Korean authorities informed the bureau of their crimes.

Kim and Choi have allegedly conspired with three other suspects in running a voice phishing operation from Bangkok, Thailand from March to June 2015, which preyed on many of their compatriots in Manila.

BI records showed that Kim and Choi have been overstaying in the Philippines since they arrived in Manila on Dec. 13, 2015 as temporary visitors. Their passports have been cancelled by the South Korean government, making them undocumented aliens.

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