MANILA - There are over 1 million foreigners in the Philippines who are TNTs (Tago nang Tago).
Speaking to radio dzMM on Friday, Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Siegfred Mison said there are around 1.5 million foreigners in the country, but only about 200,000 are registered with the BI.
"Based dun po sa database namin, mga 200,000 pa lang po ang nagre-register... Based on the foreign national index sa buong mundo at based on our population na 100 million, mga 1.5 milion ang dayuhan natin dito. So dun sa 1.5 (million), lumalabas 200,000 pa lang yung nagre-register," he said.
According to Mison, foreigners staying more than the allowable 59 days are required by law to register with the BI.
With the new Alien Registration Program, Mison said they will be giving overstaying foreigners in the country a one-year grace period to register.
"Binibigyan po namin ng pagkakataon lahat ng mga dayuhan na hindi pa nakakapagrehistro, whether ligal o iligal kayo dito sa Pilipinas, para mag-register po kayo dito sa ating bansa," he said.
The Alien Registration Program will start on October 1 and end on September 30 next year. Foreigners can register with any of the 43 immigration offices nationwide.
NOT AN AMNESTY PROGRAM
The BI commissioner assured overstaying foreigners who will register with the bureau that they will not be deported as long as they are not facing any criminal charge.
"Kung ang inyong offense ay purely on the basis of visa status, kung overstaying kayo, gagawan at gagawan po namin ng paraan para matulungan kayo. Yun nga lang, voluntarily you have to come out in the open," he said.
"Ang bureau, we really do not prefer deportation. Gusto talaga namin mag-comply lang kayo sa immigration law," he added.
However, if they still do not register within the one-year grace period and are later caught by any law enforcement agency, "ay, ide-deport po namin sila," he warned.
Mison also stressed that fugitives or foreigners facing criminal charges in or outside the Philippines will also be deported.
"Kahit nagpa-register po kayo pero fugitive po kayo, ika nga bad guy po kayo sa ibang bansa, bad guy po kayo dito, ide-deport pa rin po namin kayo," he said.
"So it is not really immunity, it is not parang blanket authority na you can do anything in this country kasi nag-register kayo dito sa amin," he added.