BUREAU of Immigration (BI) personnel assigned in different international airports nationwide have been prohibited from going on leave starting December to ensure that a sufficient number of immigration officers are on duty during the upcoming Christmas holidays.
BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said the ban on filing applications for vacation leave by port personnel will take effect on December 1 and end on January 15, 2021.
“We have to make sure that our immigration booths at the airports are adequately manned in anticipation of an increase in the number of international travelers who will enter and exit the country during that period,” Morente said.
He said due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the BI expects only a slight to moderate rise in the number of passengers who will depart or arrive from abroad.
The BI chief said many countries worldwide, including the Philippines, have not yet lifted travel restrictions imposed after the pandemic started in March.
“We are confident that the number of immigration officers currently deployed at the ports is enough to facilitate the efficient conduct of immigration formalities for arriving and departing passengers,” Morente added.
Lawyer Candy Tan, BI port operations division chief, said the leave prohibition applies to all immigration personnel assigned at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, as well as the airports in Mactan, Cebu and Clark, Pampanga, Kalibo, Iloilo, Davao, Laoag and the Zamboanga International Seaport.
Tan said during the 45 days, no application for leave or authority to travel abroad by any of the said BI port employees will be entertained or approved.
She also said she already designated several immigration officers detailed as office administrative staff to be on-call and ready to perform supervisory and primary counter duties should the need arise.