By Recto Mercene, January 2 2019; Business Mirror


Image Credit to CNN Philippines

BUREAU of Immigration (BI) Port Operations Division Chief Grifton Medina has instructed personnel at the departure areas to ensure that overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) lining up for immigration processing are given utmost priority.

Medina said he issued the directive in compliance with the order of President Duterte to BI Commissioner Jaime Morente that immigration departure formalities for OFWs be conducted expeditiously and efficiently. The policy move comes days after the BI put into motion 21 electronic gates, or e-gates, at the airport, in order to speed up the processing of arriving passengers.

“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.

Medina formed a special team of immigration officers focused on conducting the prescreening of OFWs and attending to the latter’s immigration needs at the airport.

He said designated OFW counters shall be used exclusively by OFWs.

In case of long lines at 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,” said Medina. “It’s a small move, but you’ll be surprised at the impact on easing the lines for them,” he added.

Ordinarily, a departing passenger gets processed within 45 seconds but Medina sees that the scheme may decrease the processing time by up to 33 percent.

He added that OFWs who are referred for secondary inspection due to concerns on their travel documents will, likewise, be given priority and their problem resolved within 10 minutes.

He said OFWs were also given priority through the installation of 21 e-gates in major airports.

Immigration chief Morente announced that the scheme is only part of the series of improvements he plans to implement.

“The year 2019 will be all about process improvement,” he said. “We have studied what we can do to provide better service. The e-gates and the pre-screening of OFWs are just the beginning,” he added.