A Pinay resident in Taiwan expressed her dismay after her cousin was offloaded at the airport in the Philippines.
Ammie Liau was supposed to bring her cousin to Taiwan for a vacation, but their plans were disrupted due to an issue with the Bureau of Immigration (BI), which required the birth certificates of their ancestors.
According to Karen Villanda’s report for Ulat Bayan on PTV4, Ammie rebooked the flight from June 29, 2023, to July 1.
However, on the day of the flight, the immigration officer (IO) allegedly asked for ten birth certificates of their ancestors.
Ammie and her cousin are seventh-degree relatives.
Ammie recounted in the PTV report, “The IO said, Oh, when it’s like this, ma’am, he said, when you’re already fifth or seventh-degree cousins, you need to bring a bunch of them, ten birth certificates of people from your ancestral lineage.” To prove our connections, do I need to do this research? Do I need to get ten birth certificates and line up at the PSA [Philippine Statistics Authority]?”
Ammie added, “Of course, where do we find… our grandmothers and grandfathers are already deceased. What assurance do they give us if we provide those?
By the next time, more or less, they will ask for other requirements.”
In the end, Ammie’s cousin was unable to depart, and the PHP17,000 ticket cost went to waste.
Taiwan-based Ammie Liau shared the experience of her offloaded cousin due to the immigration officer’s demand for the birth certificates of their ancestors.
Ammie called on the Bureau of Immigration to clarify their requirements, especially considering the high cost of airfare.
Ammie stated, “I hope they will come up with clear implementations, proper guidelines. Just like what they do here in Taiwan, there are proper guidelines. Passengers won’t complain because it’s their fault if they don’t bring the documents.”
Bureau of Immigration Reacts
The Bureau of Immigration responded to the incident, stating that they would investigate because the documents requested by the IO are not part of the normal process.
The spokesperson from the Bureau of Immigration, Dana Sandoval said, “What’s happening might not be the normal [process]. We will have to check with the actual case of this person to verify the story, to see what the actual assessment was by our IOs.”
Sandoval also stated that passengers are free to file complaints if they believe they have been improperly questioned by immigration officers.
The BI spokesperson added, “We have our Board of Discipline. Then, we elevate that to the Department of Justice [DOJ]. If the DOJ finds that the IO made a mistake, appropriate sanctions are given.”
The BI explained that they do not impose strict measures on passengers, especially first-time travelers. They are stringent with those who raise red flags due to previous cases of human trafficking.
Meanwhile, before this issue, several passengers shared their horror stories about immigration officers, with many of them being offloaded.
One of these cases involved Cham Tanteras, who was asked for a yearbook by an immigration officer but still did not make it onto the plane in the end.
Another passenger missed the flight due to prolonged questioning by an immigration officer.
Unfortunately, the BI does not refund the fees paid by offloaded passengers for rebooking their plane tickets.
The BI justifies its strictness as part of its campaign against human trafficking cases and protects individuals from being deceived by illegal recruiters.