Immigration officials on alert for passengers cheating on travel history

Aleta Nishimori, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 05 2020 12:33 PM | Updated as of Feb 05 2020 01:10 PM

Travelers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 are seen wearing face masks as a precaution against the 2019 novel coronavirus. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Wednesday said it was on alert for travelers from areas covered by the Philippine travel ban who try to find a way to come to the Philippines via another country.

"Yun ang binabantayan natin that is why we are more vigilant and we do cover to cover evaluation," said BI Port Operations Division Chief Grifton Medina.

Medina said there are travelers who use another country as exit point in going to the Philippines.

"Meron pong mga nagsi-circumvent. Nasa Hong Kong sila, nasa China sila pupunta sila ng ibang lugar Singapore, Thailand, and then uuwi," Medina said on ANC's Headstart.

The Philippines on Sunday announced a temporary travel ban on all foreigners coming from China, Hong Kong, and Macau as the country recorded its first 2019 novel coronavirus-related death. 

Passengers who will transit through China and its territories are covered by the ban. Filipino citizens and those who hold a permanent resident visa issued by the Philippine government, however, are allowed to enter the country provided that they undergo a 14-day quarantine.

"You would not know. Galing ng ibang route...pag ni-report nila 'yun sa arrival card nakalagay doon galing sila ng Singapore. That is why we had a targeted approach," Medina said.

Medina added that the bureau is about to launch its Advance Passenger Information System, a partner to the Passenger Name Record, to help them easily track travel history.

Watch more in iWantTFC

Interior and Local Government Undersecretary for Barangay Affairs Martin Diño said they have ordered the immediate activation of the Barangay Health Emergency Response Team or BHERT to address the threat of the 2019-nCoV in their communities.

Diño said BHERT members would know passengers from their areas arriving from countries with reported cases of coronavirus.

"Masasala namin sa barangay level, meron tayong street leader, pook leader basta may proper coordination mababantayan ito ng local government," he said.

(We can screen from barangay level, with the help of our street leader.)

He added that BHERT is organized for every 5,000 residents.

"Nakatutok kami talaga nag-concentrate kami sa mga resort dahil ito ang pinupuntahan ng mga tourists," he said.

He said this also helped them locate the tricycle driver used by the Chinese couple confirmed with nCoV.

He said the tricycle driver is now under observation.

"Sinakyan ng mismong Chinese na namatay. Ngayon, tinuro din ng tricycle boy kung saan pumunta kasi dinala sila sa resort...lahat ng pinuntahan kaya kung sino man nakausap doon persons under investigation na lahat," he said.