The Bureau of Immigration (BI) is in hot water again after a Tiktok video showed a woman experiencing the inconvenience of “irrelevant” questioning at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
According to netizen Cham Tanteras, she was asked trivial questions by a BI officer at NAIA while on her way to a flight bound for Israel last December.
She had to answer the BI officer for questions like her yearbook and graduation photos which caused a missed flight and a costly rebooking charges.
However, the BI maintained enforcement of such procedures was part of efforts to combat human trafficking.
According to the BI, she had been stopped for these reasons:
- She has no work – Tanteras said she is a freelancer.
She has only booked a one-way ticket. Tanteras said she bought a one-way Gulf Air ticket worth P19,000 from Skyscanner (side comment by source: “Actually, that’s cheap ha! Considering she was traveling on Christmas Eve”)
- No accommodation booking – Tanteras said she did “couchsurfing,” or a free accommodation among network of hosts willing to provide their “couch” to tourists ,
- Destination country: Israel, an OFW hotspot or where there are illegal Filipino workers
- Solo traveler, single, woman
- Traveling on Christmas Eve, staying abroad for one month
P6,000 (US$120) pocket money. Israel has a high cost of living. You will need at least P25,000 (US$500) a month.
The BI has set its sights lately on "young urban professionals who are easy targets of cryptocurrency syndicates which send them to Myanmar and other dubious Asian countries instead of what was stipulated in their contracts.
In the case of suspicious travelers, BI officials require certain documents such as passports, visas, and work permits, as well as inquire the “totality of circumstances” like age, financial capability, and travel destination.
A traveler goes through secondary inspection if he/she is an unaccompanied minor, accompanied by suspicious individuals, traveling to countries marked with deployment bans, or has stayed abroad for more than six months as a "tourist" and temporary visitor.
But is a yearbook or a graduation picture question a requirement, too?
Netizens have agreed that such a requirement could be "overkill" on the part of BI personnel.
Still, the bureau has reminded its personnel to conduct their inspections professionally, and in an efficient manner, to prevent future incidents from occurring.