RP to push for common visa for ASEAN nationals — Libanan

November 15, 2009 5:39 pm 

MANILA, Nov. 15 — The Philippines will push for the adoption of common visa among citizens of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) during the meeting of ASEAN immigration chiefs and consuls in Manila starting Monday.

Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Marcelino Libanan disclosed that the Philippines will actively campaign for the plenary approval of a common ASEAN visa among ASEAN member countries.

“This common ASEAN visa is comparable to the Schengen visa being given by European countries where the holders can travel within European Schengen states,” Libanan said.

The BI chief added that the adoption of a common ASEAN visa would bring huge benefits to its member countries, particularly in the fields of trade, investments and tourism.

Under the proposal, foreigners holding an ASEAN common visa can travel freely to any ASEAN member country without the need to secure another entry visa from the government of other ASEAN country they are visiting.

“It’s like a multi-country swing where a traveler can roam freely within the ASEAN region. This is in line with the one ASEAN Community by the 2015 as envisioned in its charter,” Libanan explained.

The Philippines, through the BI, is hosting the 13th ASEAN Directors-General of Immigration Department and Heads of Consular Division of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs (DGICM) and 5th ASEAN Immigration Intelligence Forum (AIIF).

Held annually, this year’s three-day DGICM meeting will be held at the Renaissance Hotel in Makati City, attended by all heads of the immigration and consular departments of the ASEAN.

Lawyer Floro Balato Jr., BI spokesman and DGICM’s public information committee chair, said DGICM was created when the ASEAN Ministers adopted the ASEAN declaration on transnational crime in December 1997. It was a regional tool to combat transnational crimes.

He said the meeting will also discuss developments on last year’s agenda which include the status on the creation of ASEAN immigration and consular websites, and the implementation on the emergency response of ASEAN member countries.

Balato added that the meeting will also tackle the adoption of real-time information sharing and inquiry on lost passports and regional analysis on irregular people movement among ASEAN members and facial image analysis training to be conducted by Australian immigration officials.

“The real-time sharing of information on lost or stolen ASEAN passports will add more teeth to the global campaign against the proliferation of fraudulent travel documents,” Balato explained.

This will be the second time that the Philippines is hosting the annual event. Last year’s meeting was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Expected to attend the meeting are the immigration chiefs, immigration intelligence chiefs, and consuls from the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, Brunei Darussalam and officials of the Australian immigration and citizenship office. (PNA) scs/FMB

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