Speaking before the media at the Davao International Airport, Bureau of Immigrations (BI) Commissioner Jaime Morente said that it was former Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Bong Go who was instrumental in pushing for changes in the practices of the BI that will hopefully lead to fewer incidents of passengers being offloaded from their flights abroad.

“Nagpapasalamat kami kay SAP Bong Go for raising this concern to us at nabigyan natin ng solusyon (ang problema). Marami kasi tayong mga Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) na nao-offload. Ibig sabihin di sila napapasakay,” said Morente.

Due to reported significant increase in number of deferred passengers and a recent alarming incident regarding an allegedly unjust offloading of an OFW departing as tourist, the BI has recommended creating guidelines on pre-screening of passengers upon departure.

Morente has recently approved the forming of a working group from the Travel Enforcement Control Unit of the Bureau to assess how the pre-screening process of passengers will be implemented in attaining a smooth processing for OFWs.

For his part, Go said that the Duterte Administration has been supportive of the modernization program of the BI. “With this modernization program, we can have a professionalized BI that can address the current needs of our travelers,” he added.

Go, who was present during the event, also thanked the Bureau of Immigration for acting on the concerns he raised and for finding ways to ease the burdens on Filipino travelers.

“Huwag natin pahirapan ang mga OFWs na nagtatrabaho para sa ikabubuti ng kanilang pamilya,” he said.

Go added that government programs like this are in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s goal of improving the quality of life of every Filipino.

“Ayaw talaga ng Pangulo ‘yung pumipila ng buong araw ang ating mga kababayan. ‘Yan ang lagi niyang sinasabi sa akin maski noong mayor pa lang sya. Ang tunay na serbisyo ay nakikita sa mga maliliit na bagay na magpapagaan ng buhay ng mga tao tulad nyan,” he said.

Go gave his remarks during the inauguration of the Electronic Gate System (E-gates) at the Davao International Airport. He also thanked the Bureau of Immigrations (BI) for the project, which shortens the time spent by Filipinos at the immigration lines upon their arrival from abroad.

Aside from the pre-screening of passengers prior to departure, Go also said that other initiatives of BI such as the installation of E-gates will unburden travelers who are arriving in the country.

The two E-gates at Davao International Airport are the first electronic immigration gates in Mindanao. There are also two E-gates at NAIA 2, five E-gates at Naia Terminal 1 and 3, three E-gates at the Mactan Airport in Cebu, and two E-gates at Clark Airport in Pampanga.

“(With these E-gates) Filipinos, especially those working overseas, no longer have to present their passports to an immigration officer for manual checking. They only have to tap their passports on the machine. The processing time is reduced from the usual 45 seconds to just 8 to 15 seconds.”

Go also stressed that if elected, he will also prioritize the welfare of overseas Filipinos and push for legislations that will reduce red tape, fight corruption, and make government services more accessible to the people just like in the Malasakit Centers.

“Makakaasa po kayo na susuportahan natin at ipagpapatuloy ang mga pagbabagong nasimulan ni Pangulong Duterte. Tulad ng ginawa natin sa pagtayo ng mga Malasakit Centers, ilalapit pa natin lalo sa mga tao ang tulong ng gobyerno.”

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