Special team of immigration officers to assist returning Filipinos from China

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 29 2020 04:06 PM

Passengers arriving at the NAIA Terminal 1 in Parañaque City wear face masks as a precaution on January 23, 2020, as the country raises the alert to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus originating from Wuhan, China. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - A special team of immigration officers will handle immigration procedures for returning Filipinos from different parts of China, the justice department said Wednesday.

"Immigration procedures and formalities for repatriated overseas Filipinos from parts of China will be handled by a special team of immigration officers. The team has undergone briefings conducted by the Bureau of Quarantine (BoQ) and will be provided with the necessary protective gears," DOJ spokesperson Undersecretary Markk Perete told reporters via text. 

The Bureau of Immigration is an attached agency of the Department of Justice. 

Perete said immigration formalities are needed "to check and verify the identity of every person who enters our gates."

"Apart from updating travel records, immigration formalities are essential for our national security. We want to make sure that our security is not compromised by those who seek to gain entry into our territory by exploiting the current situation," he said.

"We need to remember that terrorism, among others, remains as valid a threat as the current medical emergency we are facing," he added.

The Department of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday said they were ready to repatriate Filipinos from Wuhan City and other parts of Hubei province in China, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV which has so far claimed more than a hundred lives and infected thousands others.

The repatriation, however, is subject to the condition that returning Filipinos will be quarantined upon arrival.

Perete confirmed the quarantine was part of protocol established by the BoQ, as communicated to the Bureau of Immigration.

The BI had earlier announced it would stop issuing visas upon arrival to Chinese tourists in the wake of the 2019-nCoV outbreak.