Saturday, November 6, 2010

Philippine Bureau of Immigration mulls new Arrival/Departure card system

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) is considering a new system to capture and store information from the arrival/departure cards being filled up by international travelers in the country’s ports of entry.

The front of a disembarkation form issued by the Bureau of Immigration of the Government of the Philippines. The form bears the statement: "WARNING: DEATH TO DRUG TRAFFICKERS UNDER PHILIPPINE LAW (RA 7659)".


Immigration officer-in-charge Ronaldo Ledesma said he instructed Jollybert Galleon, BI computer section chief, to undertake the study and submit his recommendation as soon as possible. Ledesma said the bureau needs to come up with a more economical and efficient mode of retrieving and encoding the data in the cards without entering into contracts with private companies that only tend to create controversies and problems for the bureau.

Last week, the Department of Justice (DOJ) ordered the cancellation of the BI’s contract with e.Xtend Inc., the company that produces the cards being distributed by the bureau to travelers who enter and leave the country.

The contract was ordered revoked due to the controversies generated by the picture of dermatologist Vicky Belo on the card in an advertisement for the services of the latter’s beauty clinic.

Earlier, President Aquino ordered the BI to remove his picture from the card when he saw it during his recent trip to the United States.

Under its contract with the BI, e.Xtend, Inc. also provides the equipment that scans and retrieves information written in the cards.

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