Immigration braces for holiday influx of balikbayans
MANILA, Philippines—The Bureau of Immigration on Wednesday ordered its personnel at Ninoy Aquino International Airport and other gateways to brace for a greater influx of overseas Filipino workers and other balikbayans (returning Filipinos) coming home for the holidays and adopt measures for their “hassle-free” entry into the country.
In a memorandum order, Immigration Commissioner Ricardo David Jr. ordered the bureau’s airport operations division (AOD) to designate more personnel for the airports’ immigration arrival areas.
David also instructed the Immigration personnel to extend the utmost courtesy to the returning Filipinos and process their arrival with dispatch to avoid long queues at immigration counters.
“You are directed to adopt measures to ensure that they do not encounter any unnecessary hassles or undue inconvenience upon their arrival at our airports,” the BI chief said in his memo to AOD acting chief Lina Andaman Pelia.
David said he issued the directive as OFWs and balikbayans have begun to enter the country “in droves” in recent days as Christmas approaches.
BI records showed that an average of 3,000 balikbayans have been arriving per day at NAIA since last week. Most of the passengers came from Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and the Middle East where there is a high concentration of Filipino workers.
Last year, some 200,000 balikbayans, mostly OFWs, arrived at NAIA in the first week of December alone, according to BI statistics.
Like foreigners visiting the country, Filipinos from abroad are also processed by immigration officers in line with the BI’s function to record and document all international travelers entering or leaving the country.
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