CEBU -- The Bureau of Immigration has intercepted a foreigner who used a fake passport in trying to leave the country via the Mactan Cebu International Airport.
Immigration spokesperson Ma. Angelica Pedro said the Indian national is currently an immigration holding facility in Cebu while investigators are looking at the suspect's possible connection to terrorist groups.
"We won’t discount that possibility. Tinitingnan namin iyang anggulo, and we're leaving it to our intel people," Pedro said.
The BI said the foreigner admitted buying the fake passport from a fellow Indian in Davao for P40,000 last month.
Two other foreigners were recently intercepted by BI officer for also using fake passports, Pedro said.
One was a female Sri Lankan who posed as a Canadian national to depart for Canada.
In pictures shown to the BI, the Sri Lankan traveler almost has the same facial features as that of the picture in the passport, but an eagle-eyed immigration officer spotted some differences.
The other foreigner was a male Syrian who also posed as a Canadian departing for Canada. The traveler was even able to produce a Canadian ID bearing his picture, but the immigration officer spotted flaws in his fake passport.
Also last month, a Filipina used a fake passport while attempting to depart for the United Arab Emirates. Her picture was in the passport but the name and details was that of her sister.
"Ayaw natin na gagamitin ang bansa natin as a fraudulent hub," Pedro said. "We are employing the best immigration officers in the country to make sure na ginagawa nila ang trabaho nila."
Pedro said they are now employing "redundancy checks" or double-checking all passports of travelers departing for abroad.
This means that after the initial check at the immigration counters, there will be another set of BI officers inspecting the passports before boarding.
"This is to make sure that all passengers passing through our airports have legitimate documents," Pedro said.
The BO will also be employing "biometrics inspection" of all travelers. This device has the ability to capture the retina in the eyes of travelers, as well as their fingerprints.
Pedro said that this may be implemented by the end of the year.