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BI says sorry to traveler in viral rant about ‘irrelevant questions’

by Jericho Zafra

Recently updated on March 19, 2023 03:11 pm

THE Bureau of Immigration (BI) apologized on Thursday to a Filipino traveler who complained about missing her flight in December due to what she considered to be “irrelevant” questions from immigration personnel. 

Cham Tanteras, who detailed her ordeal in a viral TikTok video, was eventually allowed to travel after filling out the Border Control Questionnaire and undergoing secondary inspection.

The BI said it “immediately” conducted an investigation into the incident and asked the immigration officer concerned to issue a full report on the incident. 


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“We apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused the Filipino passenger and other Filipino passengers,” the bureau said in a statement.

But it also asked for understanding as it has to implement measures to combat human trafficking. 

It likewise said personnel development to improve the bureau’s services remain a priority. 

The viral rant

In her TikTok video, Tanteras said she failed to make it to her flight to Israel in December 2022 due to a lengthy immigration interview. 

Tanteras said she lined up for the immigration counter around 6 a.m. in anticipation of possible delays. In the first round of the interview, the immigration officer asked about her recent trips and the purpose of her trip to Israel.

‘Irrelevant questions’

She said the officer then invited her to the immigration office where she was asked several “irrelevant questions.” 

She was asked whether her parents were separated or still together and whether she had her yearbook with her. 

“I told the officer, ‘Hey, I graduated college ten years ago, why would I even bring a yearbook in my travel?’”she recalled.

Aside from these questions, she also said the officer went through her emails and documents to check the legitimacy of her travel. She was also asked to write an essay about her freelancing job.

Tanteras is a freelancer who moved to Siargao during the pandemic. She is also a content creator and posts stories about her life in Siargao as a digital nomad.

She said that by the time she was given the green light to travel, the gates to her flight were already closed. 

She had to book another flight to Israel. 

What’s next? 

In response, the bureau said it has reminded its personnel to “conduct inspections professionally and in an efficient manner” to prevent these incidents from happening again in the future.

But it also asked the public to consider that it also has to undertake efforts to prevent Filipinos from being trafficked abroad.

“The BI is but one of the numerous agencies of the government tasked to combat trafficking. The BI seeks consideration and understanding as the agency is constrained to implement strict measures to assess departing passengers,” it said. 

In 2022, a total of 32,404 Filipinos were barred from leaving the country. Of this number, the BI said 472 were found to be victims of human trafficking or illegal recruitment. 

The total also includes 873 people who provided false documents or misrepresented themselves. At least 10 people trying to leave the country to work overseas were discovered to have been underage, it said.

The bureau recently intercepted three passengers bound for Lebanon who disguised themselves as tourists to work in the said country.

It also said there have been cases of young urban professionals, those who are employed, with degrees from good schools, and with a good travel record, who have been enticed by cryptocurrency scam syndicates to work in other countries. 

They were promised a salary of $1000 a month, but were forced to “scam” westerners, it said.

“These trafficking syndicates are continuing their nefarious activities, but we will not relax our vigilance in preventing their victims from leaving and [being] saved from the evils of human trafficking,” BI Commissioner Noman Tansingco said.



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