THE Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Friday launched its electronic gate facility (e-gate) scheme for Filipino air travelers arriving in Cebu and Davao airports.
Immigration’s Port Operations Division Chief Grifton Medina said a total of five e-gates—three in Mactan and two in Davao—became fully operational at the two southern airports last week.
Medina said similar e-gates will be installed at Clark and Kalibo airports before the year ends, “so that with the onset of the peak travel season the project would be operational in all of the country’s five major ports of entry.”
“We are targeting to make the e-gates operational in these major ports before the Christmas and New Year, when we expect to process a huge influx of traveling passengers.”
According to Medina, only Filipino passengers with machine-readable passports may use the e-gates. The e-gate’s first stage would be for children and senior citizens, while travelers with disability will be processed at a separate priority lane.
The e-gates were initially launched and pilot-tested at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) three months ago as part of the BI’s effort to expedite processing of travelers and reduce the long queues at the airports.
The project cut down the standard immigration processing time for every traveler to eight seconds or 15 seconds from the average time of 45 seconds.
Aside from faster processing, the e-gate project also aims to bolster the BI’s ability to pinpoint or detect travelers with derogatory records, wanted fugitives and those who are subjects of blacklists and hold departure orders.
Each e-gate is equipped with modern security features, including facial recognition, biometric scanning, bar code reading, and smart card recognition, all rolled into one.
Commissioner Jaime H. Morente welcomed the launching of the e-gate project in Mactan and Davao.
“It will help the BI address the perennial problem of long passenger queues at the airports especially during the Yuletide season,” Morente said during the launch of the e-gates in Davao. “This project really prioritizes Filipinos, to ensure fast and smooth processing of our [compatriots] so they have more time to be with their families.”