By Jun Ramirez
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has placed its men on heightened alert as it braces for the upcoming South East Asian Games (SEA Games) and the holiday rush.
BI Commissioner Jaime Morente issued the directive following the expected surge of Filipino and foreign travelers in the next few weeks.
“We are expecting up to three percent increase in arrivals and departures this holiday season. We are certain that there will be more tourists and balikbayans who will be flying in this Christmas,” said Morente.
“Even more now that the SEA Games will be held in the country, we are projecting an added 8,000 delegates including athletes, media, technical officials, volunteers, fans, and audiences,” he added.
BI records show that in December 2018 more than 1.5 million passengers arrived the country, while more than 1.2 million left.
Morente shared that many of these are Overseas Filipino Workers and Filipinos living abroad, who come home to celebrate the Christmas season.
Meanwhile, BI port operations chief Grifton Medina shared that they will again be enforcing the “No Leave, No Absences” policy during the SEA Games and holiday rush.
“Our men have been instructed not to go on leave during the peak season to maximize our manpower,” he said.
Likewise, Medina reminded to travelers to “arrive early, at least three hours before your flight,” and appealed to travelers to bear with build ups.
The appeal came after a video of long lines at the Mactan Cebu International Airport made rounds on social media.
It can be recalled that the BI recently hired more than 600 immigration officers to add to their manpower.
Likewise, Medina highlighted the installation of e-gates which he said “lessens the processing by almost six times, lowering the regular 45 seconds to at least eight seconds,”