THE new Electronic Gates System (E-Gates) began operations at the NAIA Terminal 3 yesterday in a bid to further expedite the processing of arriving Filipino passengers by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) at the airports specially with their expected influx now that the Christmas season has set in.
“Ito ang maagang regalo ng ating Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte para sa mga kababayan nating umuuwi sa bansa, ang mas pinabilis pa na proseso sa immigration,” said BI Deputy Commissioner and chief of Ports Operations Division (POD) Marc Red Mariñas, as the five newly-installed E-Gates were tested yesterday by arriving Filipino passengers from Cathay Pacific flight 901 from Hong Kong.
Mariñas and POD Deputy chief Julius Caezar Feria II led the first day of E-Gates operations, assisted by the BI-NAIA’s top officials led by overall Travel Control Enforcement Unit (TCEU) head Erwin Ortanez, TCEU NAIA terminals 3 and 2 chiefs Glenn Comia and Den Binsol, head executive assistant for operations Fidel Mendoza, intel chief Dong Castillo, immigration officer Rose Perez and airport operations section chief of staff Vincent Bryan Allas, who were all present to assist the passengers who are first-time users of the five newly-installed E-Gates as well as to observe how the system worked and how it may still be improved further.
Feria said the E-Gates will initially be used by Filipino passengers with machine readable passports and that senior citizens and other physically-challenged travelers on wheelchairs will have to be processed at the regular counters.
With the E-Gates in place, Mariñas said aside from reducing human errors in passenger clearing processes, the BI also expects to cut the standard processing time for every traveler to only about 12 to 15 seconds from the present average maximum of 45 seconds.
Equipped with modern security features such as facial recognition, biometric scanning, bar code reading and smart card recognition all rolled into one system, the modern ‘E-Gates’ provide speedier passenger processing and enhance the BI’s ability to pinpoint or detect travelers with derogatory records, including wanted fugitives and those who are in the immigration blacklist, watchlist and hold-departure list, Mariñas said.
He added that the most important feature of the project is that it is a ‘fast travel and accurate border clearing system that will eliminate errors in passenger verification and provide the bureau with a quick system to detect persons of interest trying to cross the country’s borders.’
Under the old or usual procedure, a passenger, upon arrival, queues and then presents his passport to a counter being manned by an immigration officer. After the passenger is manually processed, the same officer puts the arrival stamp on the passport and the passenger is good to go.
With the ‘E-Gates’ in place, a passenger just goes straight to the machine in front of the glass doors, puts his boarding pass and then followed by his passport, as the flight and passport details are read. Once done, the door opens and the passenger faces another machine that would capture his facial features and biometrics data.
If the concerned passenger has a problem such as the existence of derogatory records or defective documents, the doors will not open. Instead, a yellow light and signal will be given out. When this happens, a BI supervisor will approach the passenger and bring him to the office for secondary and manual processing.
Product specialist Jerwin Faustino, 25, of Cainta, Rizal, was the very first to have tested the E-Gates and was happy to have experienced the same kind of process which he said he experienced in other more progressive countries. He had come from London on vacation.