By Jun Ramirez
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) expects further decrease in arrivals and departures following the announcement of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) that all commercial flights to and from the Philippines will be suspended starting May 3.
The temporary shutdown follows the decision of National Task Force Against COVID-19 Chief Implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr., to help slow down the spread of the coronavirus.
Likewise, the MIAA reported that cargo flights, as well as medical supplies, utility and maintenance flights will continue operation, subject to protocols set by the Inter-Agency Task Force in the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said the move is essential in slowing down the spread of the virus, as well as giving the country more time to increase capacities in managing the lethal disease.
Morente said the temporary travel restriction set by the government is “a necessary sacrifice and the BI is ready to implement any restriction in the international movement of people.”
BI port operations chief Grifton Medina reported 41,249 arrivals and 23,187 departures at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport last month.
“Most of those who arrived are Filipinos including overseas workers, and their families, while majority of those who left the country are foreign nationals who wished to go back to their home countries,” Medina said.
He added that the figures are a far cry from the usual more than one-half million arrivals and departures that were recorded monthly.
Currently, immigration officers deployed at the airports are drastically cut following the suspension of operations of all international airports nationwide.