Stop spread of fake news -- BI

THE Bureau of Immigration (BI) yesterday appealed to the public to stop spreading fake news about arriving aliens despite the ongoing travel restrictions being implemented by the agency.

The call follows a viral post on social media that a flight from Wuhan, China landed yesterday in Manila.

The post, which was uploaded by a political page, garnered thousands of shares on Facebook.

BI Commissioner Jaime Morente expressed his disappointment at the resurgence of the fake news that is being used by anti-government bodies for political propaganda. "This has already been addressed before, but apparently some people who wish to put malice in regular activities keep on reviving this issue, hence the need to send reminders to stop the spread of misinformation," said the BI Chief.

Morente reiterated that flights are not banned, and some flights from all over the world continue to operate, but they are implementing strict restrictions on the entry and exit of people.

Earlier, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines issued a clarification stating that Royal Charter Air 417, which reportedly landed Saturday morning, and was the subject of the viral social media post, carried only cargo. 

Following guidelines from the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), cargo flights may continue to operate.

The BI, on the other hand, is implementing restrictions on the entry and exit of people. Under current travel restrictions, only Filipinos, their spouse and children, accredited foreign government and international organization officials, as well as foreign airline crew are allowed to enter the country.

"International travel restrictions remain even under GCQ (general community quarantine)," said Morente. 

Foreign nationals may depart the Philippines anytime, while only overseas Filipino workers, permanent residents or holders of student visas in their country of destination may be allowed to depart. 

“Arriving and departing commercial passenger flights that continue to operate may carry only those exempted from the ban,” said Morente.  He encouraged netizens to stop spreading fake news and to "check and double check information online, and always verify through legitimate sources".