The City Tourism Office (CTO) has urged the managements of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to review their policies concerning the processing of documents and the inspection of baggage for passengers from Taiwan.
This request follows delays in clearing passengers at the Puerto Princesa International Airport (PPIA) after the resumption of direct flights from Taiwan on June 20.
Demetrio Alvior Jr., the head of CTO, told Palawan News that some of the 160 passengers experienced frustration upon arrival. Despite arriving before 7:00 p.m., they were only able to leave the airport around 9:30 p.m. due to extended customs and immigration procedures.
Three immigration officers were tasked with inspecting the visitors’ documents and facilitating their movement, but despite their presence, they took an extended amount of time, leading to delays, he pointed out.
“Ang disappointing lang yong process natin sa immigration. Ang feeling is magti-TNT ba sila dito sa Puerto Princesa? Galing na sila ng airport ng Taiwan, hindi rin naman huminto ang eroplano sa himpapawid, or pumunta ng Quiapo para malagyan ng ibang gamit,” Alvior said Monday, 26 June.
During customs checks, Alvior observed that some passengers’ bags were being inspected, which puzzled him since this practice is not commonly seen in other countries.
He added that the departure airport in Taiwan is equipped with pre-clearance facilities that streamline the immigration process. These facilities enable checks to be completed before travelers reach the Philippines, ensuring a swift processing upon their arrival.
Alvior highlighted that this particular issue has contributed to South Korea’s reluctance in restoring its direct air link to Puerto Princesa. He expressed that South Korean travelers perceive the baggage inspection as a negative experience, making them feel as if they are being treated like criminals.
“Sana mabigyan din ito ng pansin ng mga national government agencies natin, o matulungan tayo ng Department of Tourism (DOT) na baka puwedeng ireview yong process nila so that hindi naman magtagal ang mga bisita sa paglabas sa airport,” he said.
“Sana wag naman ganoon dahil nanliligaw nga tayo sa kanila na pumunta dito sa atin sa Pilipinas at mag-turista,” he added.
He mentioned that he has already brought up the concern to the regional office of the DOT, seeking its assistance in urging the two bureaus to review their policies regarding arriving guests and streamline the process.