BI eyes advance info on PH visitors

By Evelyn Macairan, The Philippine Star

Posted at Aug 09 2014 09:52 AM | Updated as of Aug 11 2014 04:22 PM

MANILA, Philippines - To better screen high-risk passengers coming to the country, the Bureau of Immigration is hoping to get advance information about the passengers even before they step on Philippine soil.

Immigration commissioner Siegfred Mison said they are pushing for the implementation of the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) to allow immigration officers to receive data about the passengers bound for the Philippines even before they arrive at international airports and seaports.

He said the government needs an APIS “so that we could channel all our resources to those passengers who are considered as high-risk and low risk. We would be able to immediately let the ‘good guys’ in and keep the ‘bad guys’ out.”

Mison said they are still in the process of getting President Aquino to sign an executive order to implement APIS.

The yearly subscription to the provider of the advance passenger database alone could amount to P16 million. Aside from the BI, the Bureau of Customs and the Department of Tourism might be asked to help shoulder the subscription cost since they would also benefit from the system.

The service also covers the training of personnel for the APIS.

There are three top APIS providers that would still have to bid for the project once the President signs the executive order.

Mison is hoping the project pushes through before the end of the year.

Two international events are scheduled next year where the APIS would prove to be useful – the five-day apostolic visit of Pope Francis from Jan. 15 to 19 next year and the 2015 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meet.

The first batch of delegates for APEC is expected to arrive this December.