"Perhaps it is time for somebody competent. "
The other day, I ran across an article of columnist Bobi Tiglao regarding the operations of the Bureau of Immigration at our international airports.
Tiglao cited his own experience and that of a British woman carrying her baby. There was another woman from Hong Kong who was with her wheelchair-bound husband. They were all made to suffer through the long queue inside the sweltering designated Immigration space inside the airport. This place was said to be operating with malfunctioning air conditioning units.
“The scene was maddening: travelers were jampacked shoulder-to-shoulder; babies were bawling out because of the heat and feeling the crowd’s anxiety; an old man on a wheelchair, I was afraid, seemed to be giving up on life itself. It took me nearly an hour for my passport to be stamped,” was how Tiglao described his ordeal.
“A British lady carrying a crying baby could not help but remark: ‘I’m not going to back to this bloody place ever.’ A Hong Kong Chinese lady accompanying her husband’s wheelchair asked the airport porter why PWDs and the elderly aren’t given priority in going through immigration, ‘like every civilized airport in the world does,’” he added in his article.
Tiglao blames the mess at the way the hierarchy of the BI runs its operation as noted there were only “six immigration officers processing what probably were a thousand passengers lining up for their passports to be stamped, and that one of the immigration cubicles wasn’t even manned at all.”
Well, add to that some power-tripping IOs with whom I ran into a couple of years back.
Coming back from another country, I came across this IO who was questioning every incoming passenger about his or her trip and their plan for coming back! These are all Filipinos who just came back from a foreign trip, maybe for work, pleasure or studies (OFWs had their own IO to attend to them) and yet they were being asked those silly questions! My God, they, we, all are Philippine residents.
And because of this stupid questioning of that particular IO, it took about five to ten minutes before one’s passport could earn its return stamp.
One time, I ran into another power-tripping IO who held our companion, the childhood friend of my wife whom we were treating to a trip to Macau.
My wife’s friend was interrogated for about two hours by this IO, although later we found out the questions were directed at me, like how big is my house, how many cars do I have, how many maids do I employ, what is my capacity to treat her to a foreign trip, etc.
I was being suspected as a human trafficker and that I was bringing my wife’s friend to our trip to have her employed in Macau. And even after the airport manager had already called up her supervisor, vouching for me and my wife’s friend, she would not relent. Until her supervisor made me sign an undertaking I would ensure my wife’s friend would be coming back with us.
But while Tiglao points his finger to Commissioner Jaime Morente as the one to be blamed for his agency’s mishandling of their airport operation, I think the buck stops with Grifton Medina, the Immigration’s Port Operations Division chief, who handles the assignment and scheduling of IOs at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminals 1, 2 and 3 including all the terminals all over the country.
Apparently, Medina is too busy with something else he fails to monitor the activities of his IOs. When the cat is away, the mouse has all the time to play.
According to sources over at the airport, with Medina rarely paying a visit at the Immigration offices at all of the country’s international airports, the IOs have been taking breaks at any time they want to do so. Some of them even, while inside the cubicle, would just be playing with their cellphones.
And these are clearly, the responsibility of Medina.
So, how do you solve a problem like the Immigration? Maybe it’s time Medina be replaced by someone competent.
Speaking of Immigration, my source has also added that Papa G, the subject of my recent column, has just discovered another milking cow – the Indian citizens and other illegals entering the country through the Clark International airport.
According to the source, Papa G has tasked his personnel to raise P200,000 a week for him in exchange for relaxing immigration rules on those illegal immigrants.
This is one thing Morente should look into. This notorious Papa G is truly giving his office a bad name!