IN a bid to end the long queues at immigration booths in the country’s premier airport and to disrupt the activities of human smuggling syndicates, the Philippine Bureau of Immigration on Friday said it is studying the possibility of ending the usage of traditional passport stamps by next year and replacing it with state-of-the-art passport stamping equipment similar to what is used in other countries.
BI Port Operations Division chief Marc Red Marinas said “If plans should push through, the stamp-free clearance will save much time.” It will lessen the queueing time on immigration booths.
Furthermore, Marinas added that the modernization of BI processing system will eradicate the practice of fabricating immigration stamps by human smuggling syndicates, especially those that send illegal workers abroad. Many Filipino job seekers are falling victims to these syndicates using fake immigration stamps.
Marinas disclosed that around 400 Filipino travelers were stopped at the NAIA terminal 3 and other airports in the country during the past administration due to fake immigration stamps. They were turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking for proper investigation.
The advantage of the new equipment, Extens SmartStamp, is that it will automatically scan and print the immigration stamp and it won’t be visible to the naked eye, Marinas explained.
Recently, Marinas and other BI officials were sent to Canada to examine the German-made equipment. By early next year, the officials and technicians from the Extens SmartStamp will come to Manila to study the BI data system at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
The non-stamping of passports has already been done in Hong Kong since 2013 and in Europe.