MANILA, Philippines—The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has removed about 6,000 individuals from its hold departure list and watchlist to sanitize the bureau’s records and purge it of expired and obsolete derogatory orders.
Immigration Commissioner Ricardo A. David Jr. said their move was upon the directive of Justice Secretary Leila De Lima.
Upon De Lima’s instructions, all watchlist orders issued before May 25, 2010 are considered expired and may now be lifted or cancelled. Also HDOs which have lasted for five years or more from the date of issuance are also lifted.
David said as of June 12 this year, the BI has already lifted 810 hold departure orders (HDOs) and 5,005 watchlist orders (WLOs) from its database.
The orders were previously issued by the BI against individuals who were subjects of criminal and administrative complaints before the bureau or the Department of Justice (DoJ).
“We hope that as a result of this cleansing process, fewer people will be inconvenienced at the airports and prevented from leaving because their names happen to be in our derogatory list,” David said.
David said that the BI has started reviewing its records and initially found out that there were thousands more of expired hold departure and watchlist orders which should be erased from the bureau’s database in the coming weeks.
But David said the HDOs and WLOs which are subjects of pending court litigations would not be lifted.
David urged the public to visit the bureau’s website, www.immigration.gov.ph, to view the list of individuals with HDO and those in the wathclist.
BI Law and Investigation Division chief Arvin Santos, however clarified that only HDOs and WLOs issued by the DoJ and BI are covered by the DoJ directive and not those issued by the courts.
Santos also added that 18 HDOs and 19 watchlist orders issued by the DoJ as well as 4,465 HDOs and 9,853 watchlist orders issued by the BI were currently being reviewed to determine if these may be lifted or retained if related to pending cases.