BI relieves immigration officer involved in grueling traveler interview
MANILA, Philippines — The immigration officer, who reportedly subjected a Filipina traveler to an intense grilling that made her miss her flight, has been relieved from his post and reassigned to a back office.
Bureau of Immigration (BI) spokesperson Dana Sandoval on Friday said the move was to give way to the agency’s ongoing investigation into the incident, which first drew the public’s attention through a now-viral TikTok video posted by lifestyle blogger Cham Tanteras.
Tanteras said that the officer had questioned her on seemingly irrelevant topics, like the status of her parents’ relationship and if she had her school yearbook with her.
READ: BI apologizes to Filipina in viral immigration rant for ‘inconvenience’
“The immigration officer was relieved from his post from the frontline, and he was transferred to a back-end office already after the incident,” Sandoval told INQUIRER.net over the phone.
Should the officer be found negligent of his duty, Sandoval said he could be slapped with administrative sanctions based on civil service rules.
She further noted that it was no less than BI commissioner Norman Tansingco who directly called the officer to explain his side of the story.
“He said he did not require a yearbook from the passenger, but of course, the holding of the secondary inspection is really not the issue, in our opinion. It’s really the manner that it was conducted,” Sandoval said.
She noted that there could have been a lapse on the officer’s part in explaining to the traveler what was happening and why the questions were being asked during the interview.
“That’s why there was a big fuss about it. Maybe because it was not explained properly to the passenger the reasons why she was undergoing secondary inspection and the relevance of the questions that the immigration officer asked,” she explained.
Sandoval, however, stressed that conducting secondary inspections in the immigration process is still necessary given the alarming number of Filipinos falling victim to human trafficking and illegal recruitment.
She also clarified that yearbooks or diplomas are not required for travelers departing the country.
READ: BI makes it clear: Yearbook, diploma not needed to go through immigration process
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