Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Norman Tansingco vows to weed out corrupt immigration personnel as the new BI chief caps the year with 100 days of improvements in the agency.
Tansingco, who celebrated his first 100 days as BI chief has initiated numerous projects meant to fast-track the modernization of the bureau.
He spent Day One inspecting the main office, and proceeded on his second day to conduct an inspection of the BI operations at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
Tansingco reminded frontline officers that he will not tolerate any corrupt activities within the ranks. “Ayoko ng pastillas. Ayokong umabot sa ako pa mismo ang magpoposas sa empleyadong mahuling gumagawa ng kalokohan,” he earlier warned.
Tansingco also initiated the tightening of screening of arriving foreigners from Cambodia and Vietnam in September, following reports from local law enforcement agencies on the uptick of kidnappings and extortion activities by syndicates coming from the two countries.
The drive against sex offenders in the country also remained a priority for the bureau. One of the biggest arrests was John Crotty, a 64-year-old UK national who was tagged as undesirable after having been previously convicted of sex-related crimes.
BI agents in its warden facility also blocked attempts to smuggle methamphetamine inside the detention center in September and October, which led to the filing of criminal charges against the aliens involved.
Aliens committing fraud were likewise sought for arrest and deportation. In September, South Korean Lee Won Ho was arrested by BI agents for being tagged as a kingpin in a telecom scam syndicate victimizing his compatriots. On the same month, Fu Qihao was arrested for being wanted in China due to his involvement in a pyramid scam. In October, the BI arrested a Ghanian scammer posing as a missionary in the Philippines, after reports of his involvement in ATM hackings in the metro.
The BI likewise strengthened its partnership with other government agencies, including the Bureau of Customs and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, which led the interagency to the interception of American Stephen Jozeph Szuhar in September, who attempted to smuggle in 19 million worth of cocaine to the country.
Coordination with the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police also led to the arrest of 372 illegal aliens found to be involved in clandestine online gaming operations. On the other hand, coordination with the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation led to the cancellation of visas of 48,782 foreign nationals, 1,424 of which have already been ordered to leave.
The agency also partnered with the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Council in the establishment of cybercrime hubs at the BI Main office and major international airports.
Together with the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), the BI also rolled out its updated system linked with the DMW’s database, to access overseas Filipino workers’ overseas employment certificate records in real time, lessening paper-based requirements.
Other international airports have also strengthened their border measures. In October, immigration officers at the Clark International Airport arrested two Indians with fake immigration stamps, and a Taiwanese wanted in his country for drug-related crimes.
The BI has also pushed for improvements to provide better service to the public. It has transferred the 2023 annual report to the Robinson’s Place Manila and the SM Mall of Asia, and has opened its offices nationwide to provide convenience to the public.