PH Immigration bars entry to 242 suspected illegal workers

Robie de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Tuesday said it has denied entry to 242 foreign nationals suspected of intending to work illegally in the country.

In a statement, the BI said the foreigners were intercepted at three terminals of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport from February 21 to 28, following the relief from the duty of all terminal heads due to the alleged ‘pastillas’ bribery scheme.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said 79 were intercepted at NAIA terminal 1, while 33 were barred entry at terminal 2, and 130 at terminal 3.

He added that foreign nationals include citizens of Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia and Chinese.

BI Intelligence Chief Fortunato Manahan, Jr. said they noticed attempts by suspected illegal workers to use other ports of entry to come to the Philippines, calling this a “cause for concern.”

“Our frontliners will heighten our efforts in screening these aliens. We are in close coordination with our foreign counterparts in ensuring that no aliens with bad records enter the country,” he said.

“But if they are already in the country before we receive information about their crimes, we will immediately send them out,” he added.

Morente earlier ordered a revamp of immigration personnel at NAIA following allegations that some of them are receiving pay-offs to facilitate the entry of fugitives and offshore gaming operations workers from China. 

The BI chief vowed to expand the probe on the alleged pastillas scheme following statements from whistle-blower Allison Chiong that the said modus reportedly continued to operate “until recently.”

“I have ordered all NAIA heads replaced, and reshuffled all frontline personnel to break any possible collusion among them, this revamp affected around 800 officers,” Morente said.

“We have likewise placed the Travel Control and Enforcement Unit and the Border Control and Investigation Unit under the control and supervision of the Intelligence Division to serve as an external check and balance to monitor airport operations,” he added.

Morente warned that those proven to be part of the alleged scheme will face both administrative and criminal cases.

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