By Jun Ramirez
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) said that its officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and other international ports are on standby for the resumption of flights to the Philippines later this week.
BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said immigration officers assigned at the airports still continue to render full-time duties despite the suspension of inbound commercial passenger flights.
“Our officers continue to work on skeletal deployment as their services are still needed to process other types of flights that are not covered by the suspension,” Morente said.
He also explained that aside from conducting immigration inspection and boarding formalities for international passengers, BI officers also process the pilots and crew of cargo, maintenance and utility flights that enter and leave the country.
BI port operations chief Grifton Medina disclosed that around 50 cargo planes have flown in and out of NAIA in the past several days. “These pilots and crew are all subject to routine immigration processing and inspection, be they foreigners or Filipinos,” Medina said.
He also noted that sweeper flights or outbound flights carrying foreigners back to their home countries, as well as medical flights are also exempted from the suspension, thus BI officers remain on standby to attend to these special flights.
Morente said that seaport operations likewise remain operational for arriving cruise and cargo vessels. “These vessels carry many Filipino seafarers that wish to return home, hence we are also duty-bound to continue operations in our seaports,” he stated.