IMMIGRATION inspectors across various entry points in the Philippines prevented the entry of 171 foreign nationals with previous convictions or involvement in sex offenses last year, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) reported Friday, Jan. 5, 2024.
In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Norman Tansingco said these foreigners were denied entry in accordance with the immigration act, which prohibits the entry of aliens “convicted or charged with crimes involving moral turpitude.”
Tansingco emphasized the serious risk these individuals pose to women and children, leading to their inclusion in the blacklist of undesirable aliens to prevent future attempts to enter the country.
The records revealed that the majority of the excluded sex offenders were Americans, who numbered 129. They were followed by 15 Britons, four Australians and four Irishmen. The list also included two Germans and two Chinese nationals.
Among the 171 aliens, 153 were turned away for being registered sex offenders (RSOs), while the rest faced charges related to sex crimes or were subjects of complaints for similar offenses.
RSOs are individuals placed in a registry of sex offenders by their governments after convictions, completion of sentences, or release on probation. This practice allows authorities to monitor the movements of sex offenders and notify foreign counterparts if these individuals plan to travel to their territories.
In November alone, the BI turned away at least 13 foreign RSOs, of whom 10 arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Metro Manila, and three at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport.
Expressing concern about the increase in the arrival of alien sex offenders after the end of the Covid-19 pandemic, Tansingco reassured the public that the BI would continue to enforce the law, preventing these individuals from entering the Philippines.
He emphasized the protection of Filipino women and children, highlighting the potential threat these sex offenders pose to the local population.
All the publicity about foreign sex offenders being barred from entering the Philippines, and sent back to their ports of origin, has not dampened their interest, however.
The BI greeted the first day of 2024 with the interception of an American sex offender at the NAIA 1. Tansingco said Zachary Tyler Thompson, 39, arrived aboard a Philippine Airlines from Los Angeles.
According to the BI, Thompson was convicted in 2013 and 2015 of possessing obscene materials depicting a minor in sexual conduct and for annoying or molesting a child under 18 years old.
On Sept. 7, 2022, Sen. Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada introduced Senate Bill 1291 to establish a national database of sex offenders to contain the names and other details of sex offenders who live in or travel to the country, regardless of nationality or citizenship.
This is intended to prevent arrested and convicted sex offenders from committing the same crimes against unsuspecting victims by relocating elsewhere.
However, after its first reading on Sept. 20, 2022, the bill has just languished at the Senate committees on justice and human rights, public order and dangerous drugs, and finance.