The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has forged an agreement expanding its access to International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) systems, as well as for its other offices nationwide.
The BI, in a memorandum of agreement with the Philippine Center for Transnational Crime (PCTC), agreed to expand and install the Interpol Global Communication System (I-24/7) in all BI offices, including seaports and field offices.
Initially, access to the Interpol system was limited to BI personnel at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Clark International Airport, Bohol-Panglao International Airport, Subic International Airport, Cagayan North International Airport, and Zamboanga International Airport.
According to BI Commissioner Jaime Morente, the BI-Interpol lateral coordination has led to the arrest of foreigners and fugitives involved in transnational criminal activities.
“The use of the I-24/7 was limited to screening passengers the international ports,” said Morente. “We see this as an effective tool in intercepting undesirable aliens, hence we sought expansion of its use,” he added.
The move, according to Morente, is also related to the BI’s implementation of Executive Order 122 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on the adoption of the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS).
BI APIS Operations Center Chief Melvin Mabulac detailed that the Interpol database will serve part of the country’s advance security vetting of incoming foreign nationals.
The BI signed the accord to continue direct access to the I-24/7 at international airports and seaports and extend connectivity to BI offices which accept and process visa applications, permits, and other similar transactions from foreign nationals.
“Since being granted direct access to the Interpol’s system in 2015, I am convinced that this agreement has helped the BI in hunting down foreign criminals who are attempting to make our country their hideout,” Morente explained.
“I am confident that the expansion of the system to satellite and field offices will immensely contribute to the apprehension and deportation of undesirable aliens, “ he said.
Since 2016, the BI has launched numerous massive intelligence operations, yielding to the arrest of almost 2,500 foreigners who were found to be undocumented, working without the necessary visas, and were international fugitives hiding in the Philippines.