BUREAU of Immigration commissioner Jaime Morente lauded former Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Christopher ‘Kuya Bong’ Go, for being “instrumental” in easing the processing of departing Filipinos at the country’s airports, which will mostly benefit overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
Morente told reporters at the Davao International Airport during the inauguration of the bureau’s ‘Electronic Gate System’ on Wednesday that it was Go who raised the issue of long queues at the country’s airports, particularly at the NAIA, and offered ways to address it.
Go noted that mostly affected by the long lines are the OFWs who are sometimes “offloaded” or barred from taking their flights, to the detriment of their employment abroad.
Go, Morente said, then suggested the pre-screening of departing passengers and thus cutting the time for the processing of their travel documents at the BI counters.
“Many of our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) were offloaded but with this pre-screening, they will be assisted by our immigration officers,” Morente said.
The BI chief added he has formed a “working group” from the bureau’s ‘Travel Enforcement Control Unit’ (TCEU) for the immediate implementation of Go’s recommendation.
Go, who was also a guest in the event, said that he wanted to unburden those passengers, especially the OFWs, who have been complaining of the long lines at the immigration counters.
Go noted that with only a few immigration officers on duty, lines quickly spill over to the check-in counters, and worse, passengers risk being offloaded from their flight.
“The pre-screening (of passengers) was one of the suggestions I considered when I was still in the government as SAP.
“The President really hate to see Filipinos standing in long queues waiting for their papers to be processed or their needs attended to by the government,” Go said.
“For President Duterte, public interest first (before anything else), “ he stressed.
Meanwhile with the E-gates, Filipino travelers especially OFWs, will no longer need to present their passports to an immigration officer for manual checking.
They only have to tap their passports on a readable machine that reduces the processing time of their documents from the usual 45 seconds to just 8 to 15 seconds.