BI officer denies asking yearbook from passenger

The immigration officer who allegedly searched the yearbook of a passenger boarding the plane was transferred, according to Bureau of Immigration (BI) spokesperson Dana Sandoval. But their staff reportedly denied the allegation.

“Because of this incident, he has been relieved from his post. So he has been reassigned to a back-end office as a result of this incident,” Sandoval said in an interview with CNN Philippines this Tuesday.

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What freelance writer Cham Tanteras revealed about her experience at the airport last December went viral last week.

Tanteres was supposed to go sightseeing in Israel but missed the plane because of a long interview with the immigration officer.

According to Sandoval, their staff denied that he asked the passenger’s yearbook.

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“When the officer described the incident, he described it as just a regular secondary inspection, similar to what he does every day,” he said.

He added that there was a lack of “communication” between their staff and passengers.

“Wherein he might not have been able to explain properly to the passenger what just happened and why were additional questions being asked, why was she undergoing secondary inspection. That’s why there was a misunderstanding on what was happening,” explained Sandoval.

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The BI spokesperson clarified again that passengers do not need to bring yearbooks, graduation photos or diplomas to travel out of the country.

It is also said that it is not customary to ask passengers about the marital status of their parents.

BI officer denies asking yearbook from passenger

“It is not a normal question to ask, especially since the passenger is an adult already. So there’s no real relationship — the question really has no relationship with the purpose of the travel or with the details of her travel,” said Sandoval.

“So this is also one of the things that we are looking into as to why these questions have been asked by the Immigration officer when in fact they do not have any bearing on the circumstances of the travel,” the official said.

Sandoval also said that the BI has an order or memorandum to their personnel that it is forbidden to take or touch the mobile phones or gadgets of the passengers without permission to view the e-documents.

“But without their consent, if they are refusing to show these e-documents… then our officers are not allowed to get these from the passenger,” Sandoval said.

The official also said it is a “red flag” if there are questions asked by their staff that are “something off” or unrelated about “documentation, statements, and demeanor.”

“So if there is something off or there is a disconnect among the three things… then this is considered a red flag,” he reminded.

Sandoval warned that immigration officers who neglect their work will face administrative sanctions.

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