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MANILA, May 11 (Mabuhay) — It is the responsibility of airlines to ensure that foreign passengers boarding their Philippine-bound flights are eligible to enter the country under Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) guidelines.

The Bureau of Immigration (BI), in a news release on Monday, issued the reminder and reiterated that “only foreigners with valid and existing visas are allowed to enter the country.”

“The entry of foreign tourists is still temporarily restricted,” BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said in a statement.

He warned that foreigners banned from the country will be excluded upon arrival and booked on the first available flight back to their ports of origin.

Airlines will also face fines and sanctions for allowing improperly documented aliens to board.

“Our Port Operations Division immediately circulates to the airlines updates on current travel restrictions. We are thankful that they have been very supportive, and understands that the IATF deems these actions necessary to curb the further spread of Covid-19 and its variants in our country,” Morente added.

BI spokesperson Dana Sandoval said there are two kinds of fines for the violation – a fine from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines and if the passengers are excluded and improper documented aliens, a fine imposed by the BI.

“They are technically improperly documented aliens if the airlines allowed them on board,” she said in a in a message via the Telegram platform.

There are no such cases as of the moment, according to Sandoval, but in the early implementation of travel restrictions “we noticed there were a handful of airlines who erroneously boarded aliens not eligible for entry”.

Operations Division chief Carlos Capulong said the ban on the entry of all travelers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka is effective until May 14.

He said only aliens with valid and existing immigrant, non-immigrant, and special visas issued by the BI and other government agencies are allowed to enter the country.

Those who have a Temporary Visitor’s Visa 9(a), as well as those holding Special Resident Retiree’s Visa, regardless of purpose, may only enter upon the presentation of an entry exemption document from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The bureau further reminded that only foreigners qualified for the “balikbayan” privilege are exempted from securing entry visas.

“Balikbayans” are Filipinos and former Filipinos, as well as their foreign spouses and children who are traveling with them.

They may enter and stay in the country for one year, visa-free.

IATF Resolution No. 114 likewise requires all arriving passengers to undergo a 14-day quarantine upon arrival, with the first 10 in a quarantine facility.

“Following this, arriving aliens will be required to present a 10-day booking in an accredited quarantine facility. Failure to present a confirmed booking will result in exclusion,” he added.  (MNS)