IMMIGRATION officers at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and other entry ports have been advised to tighten the screening of foreigners who claim they are married to Filipinos before allowing them to enter the country.
The Philippine Bureau of Immigration (BI) order was issued following reports that some foreign nationals managed to enter the country using fake marriage certificates, according to Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente.
“I have ordered frontliners at the ports to be doubly strict in screening foreigners alleging that they are married to Filipinos or have Filipino children. It is not enough that they have entry visas, marriage and birth certificates in their possession,” Morente said.
The government recently revised its restrictions on the entry of foreign nationals, exempting those who are spouses of Filipinos or have minor Filipino children or children with special needs, regardless of age, in the Philippines.
Morente said the BI will run after foreign nationals who managed to enter the Philippines through false documents.
He also called for the public’s cooperation in reporting any foreigner suspected of involvement in sham marriages to the bureau so they could be arrested and deported.
On August 17, two South Korean nationals were denied entry into Mactan-Cebu International Airport after presenting scanned copies of their marriage certificates that turned out to be fraudulent.
BI port operations chief Grifton Medina noted that of the two foreigners, one had not been to the Philippines while the other one was out of the country on the date of his supposed marriage to a Filipina.
He also said that all immigration officers manning the ports have been instructed to exercise extra vigilance in screening the foreign spouses and parents of Filipinos.
“It is not enough that these passengers have [an] entry visa, marriage, and birth certificates in their possession. If they notice inconsistencies in a passenger’s answer to their questions, the latter should be referred for secondary inspection, either to the immigration supervisor or personnel from our Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU),” Medina said.