The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has recently found itself at the center of a viral controversy involving an offloaded female passenger who was allegedly asked by an immigration officer to provide ten birth certificates of her ancestors. This incident has raised concerns and prompted an investigation by BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco.
According to initial findings from the investigation, the passenger exhibited multiple red flags during the assessment process, which led to her being prevented from boarding the flight not once, but twice. The first offloading occurred on June 29, followed by a second incident on July 1.
The BI has emphasized that it maintains strict measures to combat human trafficking and illegal recruitment. These measures are in place to safeguard the welfare and safety of travelers. However, in this particular case, the passenger’s alleged distant relationship with her relative, Ammie Liau, raised suspicions during the immigration officer’s assessment.
In an interview with PTV, Ammie shared her account of the incident. She revealed that her relative underwent an assessment by the immigration officer at the airport prior to their scheduled flight to Taiwan, where they intended to visit family. The immigration officer questioned the seemingly distant kinship between the passenger and Ammie, citing that they were seventh-degree relatives.
Ammie further explained that the immigration officer requested ten birth certificates of their ancestors to establish the legitimacy of their relationship. Recounting the officer’s statement, Ammie said, “He [the immigration officer] mentioned, ‘Oh, if that’s the case, ma’am,’ he said, ‘you and your cousin are now in the fifth or seventh degree, so you need… to bring numerous, ten birth certificates of people in your lineage.'”
As a result of this encounter, the passenger was unable to travel to Taiwan, adding her story to the growing number of passengers who have experienced offloading. Compounding the frustration is the financial burden of non-refundable plane tickets, which often cost passengers thousands of pesos.
In response to the controversy, the BI released an official statement providing insights from their initial investigation. According to BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco, while the full report and investigation are pending, preliminary information suggests that the unnamed passenger’s travel was deferred due to multiple red flags.
When the passenger attempted to depart late last month (June 29, 2023), she stated that she was going to Taiwan to visit her relative, Ammie. However, during the assessment, the immigration officer noted a possible employment opportunity in Taiwan. The traveler also failed to establish her relationship with her sponsor and provided inconsistent details about the sponsor.
Furthermore, the passenger could not demonstrate how she would sustain her two-week stay in Taiwan. Commissioner Tansingco emphasized that following the guidelines set by the Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding departure formalities, passengers whose purpose and capacity are not fully established may be sponsored by a relative within the fourth civil degree.
Tansingco clarified, “Only those with conflicting documentation are subjected to further inspection.” Therefore, passengers who possess appropriate documents need not be concerned.
Nevertheless, Tansingco ordered a thorough investigation into the issue of the passenger being asked to provide ten birth certificates. The outcome of this investigation remains pending, and further actions will be taken accordingly.
The incident involving the offloaded passenger has sparked a broader conversation about immigration protocols and the challenges faced by travelers. As the investigation unfolds, it is crucial to strike a balance between ensuring national security and protecting the rights and convenience of legitimate passengers.