MANILA, Philippines - The campaign against fake passport holders will be strengthened this year when the Bureau of Immigration (BI) installs about 100 biometric capturing machines in the country's premiere airports.
Immigration Commissioner Siegfred Mison said 2014 would be an “exciting” year for the BI because of the biometric capturing machines, which would enable the agency to identify the real owners of passports and verify the identity of frequent travelers.
With the equipment, the BI would now take photographs and signatures of passengers apart from checking the information written on their passports.
“(These machines) would reduce identity fraud and detect those with fake passports. We would be able to establish the true owners of the passports based on their biometric data…These machines would be good at our borders,” Mison said.
“In doing so, we would be able to prevent people using fake identities from leaving and arriving in our countries,” he added.
The BI is in the process of procuring the biometric capturing machines. The equipment will arrive in the first quarter of the year.
Countries such as Indonesia, Singapore and United States are using biometric capturing machines.
The BI is also expecting the delivery of 299 passport readers before the end of the month, and these will be installed in the airports to augment those already in use, many of which have worn out.
“Our ‘youngest’ passport reader is five years old but based on the Commission on Audit report, the lifespan of a passport reader is only three years because it easily bogs down,” Mison said.
“Once we have these (new) passport reader machines, we will be able to speed up the processing of passengers’ passports,” he said.
The BI will also hire 200 additional personnel to man the airports to improve the bureau’s service.
The agency is also in search of an office space in Makati or near the airports where it intends to transfer frontline visa services to make it more accessible to foreigners.
To make it more convenient for clients, the BI is also working to add to its 45 satellite offices. The BI has initially put up a satellite office at SM North EDSA, Gaisano Mall in Cebu and Robinsons in General Santos City.
Apart from their in-house training, the BI will have inter-agency training with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, and the National Bureau of Investigation.
The bureau will also have trainings in ASEAN countries.