THE Bureau of Immigration (BI) promises a hassle-free arrival for Filipino travelers after it upgrades the electronic gates at the country’s international airports.
In a news statement, BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco said the agency is “currently in the process of integrating the data of airlines to connect with the e-gates, further lessen the steps required for passengers.” The upgrade will eliminate the need for scanning of the boarding passes at the e-gates and thus, reduce the processing time for arriving passengers.
This developed as travelers complained of a longer processing time at the Immigration section after e-gates failed to scan their boarding passes, forcing them to transfer to Immigration counters instead.
Jose C. Clemente III, president of Rajah Tours Philippines, posted on Facebook on Monday, “Arriving at Naia Terminal 3, I lined up at the e-gates for what I hoped would be a quick exit. Guess again? In my line, about 70 percent of those queued, including myself, had to transfer to the Immigration counters as the scanners could not read the bar code on the boarding pass. I noticed the same with the other queues. The scanners could not read the bar codes and had to line up at the counters [for manual processing].”
Clemente, former president of the Tourism Congress of the Philippines, added, “I basically wasted 20 minutes standing in line. The e-gate equipment is junk. I have seen more efficient equipment in other countries that are easier to use.” The e-gates are used for Philippine passport holders.
Other commenters on his post shared the same experience. “When I asked should we use the scanners, we were told to line up with the IO [Immigration Officers] para mas mabilis[ so it’s faster].”
Meanwhile, Tansingco said, “Our e-gates are also being reconfigured to be label free. Instead of printing a sticker to be attached on the passport, passengers will receive an email acknowledging their arrival. This is the best practice that we are emulating from other countries.”
This year, BI will be procuring more e-gates to replace 25 percent of their manual operations in major international airports. “We thank the public for their cooperation and understanding as we navigate through the birth pains of this evolving technology to ease immigration processing,” said Tansingco.