Government agents at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport blocked the entry of four foreigners, one of them an Iraqi national suspected of being a terrorist.
Bureau of Immigration port operations chief Grifton Medina refused to give the name of the passenger, citing the request of the intelligence community. He, however, said the man arrived at NAIA Terminal 1 last Feb. 5 on board a Jetstar flight from Singapore.
“The passenger was immediately excluded after the immigration officer saw that his name registered a positive hit in the Interpol’s database of suspected international terrorists,” Medina said.
He added that the three other foreign nationals, who were traveling with the alleged terrorist, were also barred and were booked on the first available flight to their port of origin.
Medina said the International Police database do not provide information about the passenger’s alleged involvement in terrorist activities, except that he was included in the list at the instance of United States intelligence authorities.
He explained under the Immigration Act, the bureau can deny the entry of any foreigner suspected of having links or association with a group that advocates the overthrow of duly constituted government.
“He is just one of thousands of international terrorists whose names were included in the Interpol’s database based on information supplied by the various law enforcement and intelligence agencies here and abroad,” Medina said.
It was learned that the suspected terrorist and his three companions were all born in Kurdistan region where for decades its inhabitants have been fighting for an independent Kurdish state.
In the past, Iraqi Kurds in the region fought a bloody secessionist war against the Iraqi government then headed by the late strongman Saddam Hussein.
A similar war has also raged in the Kurdish region of Syria where separatist rebels have recently come under attack from military forces of Turkey.
In 2017, the bureau, in cooperation with the Manila International Airport Authority, installed cameras in each immigration counter in NAIA to capture images of all departing and arriving passengers in line with the heightened security measure being enforced at the airport.
The measure covers all local and foreign passengers, as well as international airline pilots and crews.
The captured images of individuals will be automatically transmitted to the immigration servers and will link to international servers for future references or person with derogatory records for possible arrest.
The bureau’s intelligence personnel and experts in profiling of individuals are on stand-by at the arrival and departure immigration areas while Customs agents helped them in providing information about individuals they monitored.
Commissioner Jaime Morente also tapped the NAIA Immigration to conduct “double screen” on all passengers coming from countries identified with foreign terrorists.
He also ordered to deport passengers with derogatory records and placed them under their blacklist so they will never have a chance to enter the country again.