President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday threatened erring Immigration and police officers to keep their hands off on tourists in the guise of validating their travel documents to extort money or they would be assigned to Jolo in Mindanao.
Duterte issued the warning in a speech before land reform beneficiaries in Iloilo City, saying these corrupt immigration personnel victimized mostly Koreans and Chinese tourists who come here to visit the Philippines.
The Chief Executive advised the public to report any incident to the President’s Hotline, 8888 which he said is dedicated to complaints against fixers, scalawag officials and poor government services.
“Don’t be afraid of libel, I’ll answer for you, just identify the government employee and agency,” he said.
In his message to government employees, Duterte told immigration officers to leave the country’s tourists alone.
He said only Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente is authorized to give the order to the bureau personnel to apprehend or investigate a foreign visitor.
“After [passport] were stamped, and admitted to the country for so many days, mostly Koreans and Chinese, they are always bugged by Immigration and police and that has to stop,” he said.
“Just one mistake, I will hit back. Either I’ll kill you, make you an example or throw you in Jolo,” the President said.
According to the latest data from the Department of Tourism, the Philippines breached its 2 million marks for tourist arrivals in the first quarter of 2018.
At least 2,049,094 international visitors came to the country for the first quarter of the year, which is 14.80 percent higher compared to 1,784,882 for the same period in 2017.
Koreans topped the tourist arrival with 477,087 for the first three months of the year followed by Chinese at 371,429, while American tourists ranked third with 284,946, followed by the Japanese at 181,178, and Australians at 74,027.