By Stephanie Sevillano

SCAM ALERT. Bureau of Immigration (BI) spokesperson Dana Sandoval warns Filipinos and foreign nationals against illegal recruitment and visa scams, during the Laging Handa public briefing on Friday (July 7, 2023). Sandoval also gave updates on their measures to address travelers’ complaints over missed flights due to long queues or lengthy inspection interviews. (Screengrab from Laging Handa forum)

MANILA – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Friday pledged to look into possible lapses in its inspection procedures to address travelers’ complaints over missed flights due to long queues or lengthy inspection interviews.

During the Laging Handa public briefing, BI spokesperson Dana Sandoval said BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco has ordered a probe to address the concerns aired by travelers and assured that the bureau would not tolerate erring personnel.

“Ipinag-utos niya (Tansingco) po na mag-conduct ng investigation ang hepe ng travel control and enforcement unit na siya pong nagku-conduct ng secondary inspection (He ordered the travel control and enforcement unit chief, who holds the secondary inspection, to conduct an investigation),” she said.

Kung may makita po, halimbawa, na (If, for example, we found) lapses on the part of our personnel, then definitely po, the bureau will recommend to the Department of Justice appropriate sanctions against any erring immigration officer.”

Nonetheless, Sandoval pointed out that the BI’s secondary inspection is part of regular procedures to protect Filipinos from human trafficking schemes.

Under the inspection, several red flags are assessed, including the tracing of fraudulent or fake documents, inconsistencies in information destinations, and even suspicious behavior of travelers.

Sandoval said the BI has been rescuing multiple Filipino travelers from falling prey to scam recruitments through its stringent immigration control.

She said most Filipino victims typically display a tourist profile.

The BI earlier warned aspiring overseas Filipino workers against online recruitment schemes that instruct travelers to leave the country as tourists, only to end up as human trafficking victims abroad.

It also urged job seekers to go through the legal employment procedures under the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW).

Visa scammers

Meanwhile, the BI called on foreign nationals wanting to visit the country to be vigilant against scrupulous individuals pretending to be immigration officers.

Sandoval reiterated that the Philippines offers visa-free entry to citizens from 157 countries across the globe, including the United States.

An American citizen recently complained about being charged PHP20,000 via online transaction to secure an entry visa to the country.

She noted that the alleged scammer was reportedly using the logo of the BI and the Philippine Consulate.

She also warned of other scams, such as the love scam wherein foreign nationals are offered to be escorted for a fee. (PNA)