Close to 800 foreign nationals were arrested last year, more than 200 of them are fugitives, as a result of the agency’s intensified campaign against illegal aliens, while 611 aliens were deported in the same year after they were found guilty of violating the country’s Immigration Act.
Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said that many of those arrested were caught in flagrante working without permits or engaging in gainful activity without proper visas.
Morente said 533 aliens were arrested while more than 200 foreign fugitives were apprehended by the bureau.
“I am proud to say that due to our intensified campaign against illegal aliens the number of arrests we made last year was 326 percent greater than those apprehended in 2017,” Morente said.
In a related development:
• Immigration authorities at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport will now place all transit air travelers under rigid scrutiny as part of the enhanced security measures at the country’s main gateway.
NAIA chief immigration officer Grifton Medina wants to make sure that transit passengers, especially those whose final destinations are Europe and United States, are all cleared before flying out from Manila.
Before, the Bureau of Immigration was just checking the passengers’ boarding pass. But with the new directives, all transit passengers should undergo security screening.
“If a person has a record in another country, or if he or she is a suspect terrorist, his or her name would automatically hit in the system, and that person could be prevented from entering the country,” said Medina.
He added that using state of the art system, the agency protects the people by checking stolen passports and counterfeit documents.
Medina said the bureau heightened its security measures at the NAIA and is conducting continuous training and inter-agency coordination with other countries or International police.
The Manila International Airport Authority, for its part, assured air travelers it is giving utmost priority and attention to the implementation of strict security measures at the NAIA.
This after US Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration last December conducted an assessment and gave recommendations regarding airport security enhancement and improvements.
The recommendations of the TSA include the installation of new equipment such as X-ray machines, walk-through metal detectors, and alarm systems.
Another recommendation was the conduct of new background check procedures for newly hired airport personnel, which will include neighborhood and NICA (National Intelligence Coordinating Agency) checks for those implementing security control, and submission of new NBI clearances for all MIAA access pass holders.
The TSA also recommended a change in the “security culture” among long-time NAIA personnel in the area of consistent implementation and observance of strict security procedures.
As for the more than 600 aliens who were deported, the BI chief said that they expedited the resolution of pending deportation cases in order to decongest the detention facility.
BI Acting Intelligence Chief Fortunato Manahan Jr. reported that many of those arrested included overstaying aliens, illegal foreign vendors, and aliens illegally employed as construction workers, miners, and other blue collar jobs.
Manahan said that 393 Chinese nationals topped the list of the arrested nationals, followed by 52 Koreans, 12 Americans, and a number of Africans.
Morente said they would be relentless in their drive against illegal aliens.
“It’s very simple. If you enter our country, you have to comply with our laws,” he said. “If you don’t, you will be deported,” he warned.