THE Bureau of Immigration (BI) yesterday announced that it will resume stamping the regular e-passports of arriving and departing nationals from the People’s Republic of China (PROC).
The practice of stamping Chinese passports was stopped by the BI in 2012 at the height of the country’s territorial dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea. This follows the move then of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to place Philippine Visas of Chinese nationals on a separate sheet of paper.
The policy was implemented after China introduced a new e-passport with pages that included the historic nine-dash line map where it bases its claim to the disputed islands.
In a memorandum issued by BI Commissioner Jaime Morente, immigration officers in the different ports may now affix their stamps adjacent to the Philippine visa of a regular e-passport presented by a PROC passenger.
According to Morente, the change in policy complies with the DFA’s recently-issued foreign service circular (FSC) instructing its Philippine consular officers to affix the Philippine visa on the pages of Chinese passports where the nine-dash line map is drawn.
Morente stated they support the DFA’s change in policy hence have adjusted their own procedures. He added that the previous practice of stamping on a separate sheet of paper has been proven to be problematic as these sheets are easily lost and misplaced by holders.
“We support this policy update of the DFA,” said Morente. “In the past, we have also expressed security concerns over the old practice because sheets of paper can easily be lost,” he added.