The Bureau of Immigration (BI) is planning to impose fines against violators of the travel ban imposed by the government on travelers from China, Hong Kong, and Macau.
In a statement released on Saturday, BI Commissioner Jaime Morente also reiterated his appeal to airlines and shipping companies to “do their share in implementing the travel ban and prevent the entry of foreigners from the areas of concern.”
He added that all airlines and ships have been instructed not to board passengers covered by the ban.
Morente’s appeal came after immigration officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Friday barred 36 Chinese nationals who came from Macau from entering the country.
The travel ban was imposed due to the novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD) outbreak.
BI port operations division chief Grifton Medina said the Chinese passengers were refused entry at NAIA Terminal 1 upon their arrival aboard a Philippine Airlines flight from Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
“They were denied entry after our officers discovered upon inspection that they were traveling as a group and that they have been to Macau last February 1,” Medina said.
Under the travel ban, foreigners will not be allowed to enter the Philippines if they have traveled either to China or its special administrative regions in the past 14 days.
Medina said the passengers were initially turned over to the Bureau of Quarantine for inspection and later excluded and booked on the first available flight to Phnom Penh.
Meanwhile, the BI said it now requires both foreign and Filipino passengers from abroad to fill up and submit their arrival cards while undergoing immigration arrival procedures by BI officers.
Earlier, Morente instructed all immigration duty supervisors in the different airports to strictly enforce the new policy so that the bureau would be able to fully assist health and police authorities in tracking down passengers who have recently been to the areas of concern.
Previously, only foreign passengers arriving at the airports were required to fill up the arrival cards while Filipinos are obliged to fill out embarkation cards when they leave the country.
On the other hand, the bureau’s immigration regulation division is strictly screening applications for extension of stay of foreign tourists to check if any of them have a history of travel to China, Hong Kong, and Macau within 14 days from their arrival. Morente said a visa extension applicant covered by the restriction shall be turned over to the BOQ for medical assessment.
“We have developed a series of checking, double-checking, even triple-checking to ensure that we assist our health authorities in monitoring the travelers. We do what we can to help prevent the spread of this virus,” he added