THE BUREAU of Immigration (BI) said it has formed a special team that will focus on conducting pre-screening of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and attend to their immigration needs at airports.
In a memorandum order, BI Port Operations Division chief Grifton Medina has designated OFW counters which shall only be used exclusively by OFWs. The BI personnel at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and other ports have implemented a scheme to expeditiously process departing OFWs.
The directive complies with the order of President Rodrigo Duterte to BI Commissioner Jaime Morente that immigration departure formalities for OFWs be conducted expeditiously and efficiently. “Our objective is to see to it that our modern-day heroes are given all the care and courtesy that they deserve in sacrificing not only for their families but for the country as well,” Medina said.
In case of long lines in OFW counters, members of the Bureau’s Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU) shall speed up the queues by inspecting and ensuring that the passengers’ travel requirements are complete while they are still on the line. “It’s a matter of deploying more people to focus on OFWs. It’s a small move, but you’ll be surprised at the impact on easing the lines for them,” he said.
The BI official also instructed officers to expeditiously process the documents of OFWs. Ordinarily, a passenger is processed within 45 seconds. Medina sees that the scheme may decrease the processing time up to 33 percent and OFWs referred for secondary inspection due to concerns on their travel documents will likewise be prioritized and the matter resolved within 10 minutes.
Medina noted that OFWs are also given priority at the arrival area, through the installation of 21 e-gates in major airports. On the other hand, Morente said scheme is only part of the series of improvements he plans to implement. “The year 2019 will be all about process improvement. We have studied what can do to provide better service. The e-gates and the pre-screening of OFWs are just the beginning,” he said. (Ferdinand Patinio)
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