December 22, 2021 | 2:05pm
In this photo from the Bureau of Immigration Facebook page, an Immigration officer inspects a traveler’s passport.
Bureau of Immigration FB Page
MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration on Wednesday urged departing passengers to arrive in airports early to avoid crowding amid the holiday rush and enforcement of additional health protocols due to the pandemic.
The bureau, in a statement, said local airlines suggested that travelers start their check-in process three to four hours before their scheduled flight.
Passengers are also told to ensure they have complete travel requirements and additional documents needed by the destination countries due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said that the bureau saw in the past few days a “steady increase” in the number of international travelers from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and airports in Mactan in Cebu, and Clark in Pampanga amid the coming holidays.
While this number is still lower compared to the Christmas seasons before the pandemic, “there could still be congestion for late passengers rushing during boarding time,” Morente said.
“We can help avoid congestion during boarding by checking in early,” he added.
Morente also pointed out airlines are conducting additional checks on passengers to ensure compliance with travel restrictions of different countries of destination.
The BI chief said Immigration Officers are also instructed to be more vigilant in screening passengers as human traffickers and illegal recruiters may take advantage of the holiday rush to get their victims out of the country.
The bureau has earlier banned its staff manning international airports from filing vacation leaders from December 1 to Jan. 15, 2022. BI also tapped immigration supervisors and officers assigned as administrative staff at the airport to be part of the on-call officers to augment staff rendering supervisory and primary inspection duty at the airports. — Kristine Joy Patag