BI, airlines agree on new A/D cards

June 4, 2009 1:53 pm 

MANILA, June 4 — Officials of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and the various airlines finally came into terms Thursday over the distribution of the new arrival and departure (A/D) cards to passengers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and other airports.

This happened after Immigration Commissioner Marcelino Libanan met with members of the Airline Operators Council (AOC) led by chairperson Ma. Lourdes Reyes at his office to clarify issues surrounding the implementation of the new embarkation and disembarkation cards by the bureau.

At the meeting, the AOC clarified that contrary to reports, they support the implementation of the new cards by the BI and recognized the need to further modernize the system of documenting the thousands of passengers who enter and exit the country daily.

“The meeting ended with both parties agreeing on a win-win solution,” said BI spokesman Atty. Floro Balato Jr., who attended the meeting.

Balato said the BI and AOC officials agreed that the airlines start using the new card at the arrival counters, while those airline companies with old disembarkation/embarkation cards may continue using them.

On the other hand, AOC also agreed that all passengers departing from the NAIA and other airports, without exception, will be given the new departure card.

The parties reached the agreement after some of the airlines informed Libanan that there are still many old arrival cards in their counters at some ports of origin abroad where they operate flights bound for the Philippines.

“The airline companies were also told that using the old cards is just a temporary option and that they should immediately start using the new arrival cards if these are already in their possession,” Balato said.

The BI spokesman said that NAIA-BI operations chief Ferdinand Sampol and anti-fraud chief Simeon Vallada were tasked to further dialogue with the airline companies to iron out any remaining kinks on the issue.

BI officials emphasized that the printing of the new cards is a valid exercise of its sovereign function to document the arrival and departure of passengers and as the chief regulator of the entry and stay of foreigners in the Philippines.

Libanan had also maintained that in adopting a re-designed arrival and departure card form, the BI aims to have an accurate, timely, efficient, modern, progressive, and uniform means of recording and retrieval of the arrival and departure record of passengers.

Also, Libanan said the new card would help the BI exercise its law enforcement function, particularly in tracing the entry and departure of people suspected of involvement in terrorism, human trafficking, drugs and arms smuggling, and other transnational crimes as well as those afflicted with contagious disease. (PNA) scs/FMB

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