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50 percent of immigration manual counters to be replaced by E-gates

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Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Norman Tansingco announced plans to replace half of its manual counters with electronic gates in order to increase efficiency of its airport operations.

Tansingco made the announcement after requesting an increase in the BI’s budget, where he stated that the plan follows a 45-second immigration processing time for travelers, adopted from the Guidelines on Advance Passenger Information published jointly by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

While the 45-second standard is intended for check in counters for the manual keying of passenger data, BI has committed and imposed upon itself to process passengers within the said periodm he said, adding that the BI’s IT programs are lined up to further reduce the processing time without compromising national security. The procurement of e-gates, he said, has been included in the BI’s approved information systems strategic plan for 2024-2026.

The e-gates, similar to those used in advanced countries, can lessen processing time to as low as 8 seconds per passenger. Compounded, this would significantly reduce the processing time of travelers.

Currently, only 21 e-gates are distributed at the arrival area in major international airports nationwide, majority of which are deployed at the NAIA. The BI is gearing up to procure additional e-gates starting 2024, and expect that by 2026, a total of 43 e-gates are installed nationwide.

The agency projects that the project will cost 1.9B, but is necessary to remain at par with international counterparts.

“E-gates is now the standard in most countries. We want things faster and more efficient, to better improve the experience of our travelers,” he said. The BI also announced that within the year, it intends to open green lanes at the departure area, which shall cater to airline crew, frequent travelers, and OFWS.

Meanwhile, Tansingco noted that their operations are prepared for the expected influx of passengers during Christmas season, saying: “Ber months are here again, and because of this we expect a higher number of arriving and departing passengers.”

Tansingco said that apart from deploying hundreds of immigration officers, with the latest batch of graduates numbering to 108, the BI has in place the Rapid Response Procedure, executed in all international ports of entry and exits during peak hours or critical periods to address the sudden influx of travelers by augmenting the number of officers assigned at a specific terminal through mobilization of other IOs assigned at other offices.

Mobile counters have also been deployed to process passengers despite the limited immigration space in our airports, as compared to the allocated immigration space in other countries, the BI chief said.

Itchie G. Cabayan
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