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Bureau of Immigration running into trouble vs. Korea

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Over the past months on this blog there are two issues that we’ve discussed that are kind of moving together and certainly coming to a head. Remember how I reported that so many Koreans are coming to the Philippines? They come here mostly to study, but for other reasons too. Also, remember how I reported how Bureau of Immigration officers were being accused (and even fired) for scamming foreigners here? Well, these two issues are joining into one, and it is not looking good.

What has happened is that a number of Koreans have complained that Bureau of Immigration officers have been extorting money from them. These Koreans (reportedly Korean Businessmen) have reported the extortion attempts to the South Korean Embassy, and the Ambassador is taking action. As a matter of fact, he is acting in a way that could really hurt the Philippines. The South Korean Ambassador has frozen all Immigration applications for Filipino Overseas Workers who want to go to Korea to work.

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The Philippine Daily Inquirer had a story about the whole diplomatic mess today:

The South Korean embassy here will continue to suspend the issuance of visas to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) bound for that country, Consul General Hong Sung Mog said Wednesday.

While he is scheduled to meet with Immigration commissioner Marcelino Libanan, Hong told INQUIRER.net in a phone interview he is “not optimistic” about getting a “positive signal” on the complaints by Korean businessman about extortion allegedly committed some immigration officials

“I plan to lift the suspension either today or tomorrow, but I have to get a positive signal from the Philippine government. So far, I am not optimistic about it,” he said.

Earlier, Libanan, responding to the Koreans’ complaints, said the real issue was not extortion but his agency’s campaign against Korean nationals illegally engaged in business here, especially the retail trade.

It doesn’t really look good. Several Philippine Senators are getting into the fray, and complaining that just because of alleged extortion by Immigration officers, it is not right to penalize innocent Filipino workers. My take on this is that this is the normal way things work between governments. One action by a government begets a response by the other government.

The best thing the Philippine Government could do, in my opinion is to make sure that the Bureau of Immigration is running a clean operation, and that it’s agents are honest and forthright. I hear so many complaints from Immigrants here, that it is just obvious that there are problems. The Bureau of Immigration even fired two of it’s officials a few months ago, after giving multiple warnings to employees and having those ignored.

I do hope that the argument between the two governments can be resolved quickly, and in a way that is best for all involved.

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Bob Martin

Bob Martin is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine. Bob is an Internet Entrepreneur who is based in Davao. Bob is an American who has lived permanently in Mindanao since May 2000. Here in Mindanao, Bob has resided in General Santos City, and now in Davao City. Bob is the owner of this website and many others.

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Dave Starr
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Good to bring this out, Bob, because the typical "head in the sand" approach so often practiced by Philippine lawmakers is not the best way to deal with this significant problem. It ties directly to some of the tourism issues you mentioned just a few days ago.

I started to write a lot more, but I can't. The BID is in serious trouble and it's hurting the Philippines in significant ways.

Bob
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Bob

Hi Dave – I do believe that this is an important issue for the Philippine Government to deal with. This may seem kind of silly, but I believe that it is an indication of the problem – the Bureau of Immigration, is alternatively called the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation. That name, BID has a very negative connotation to it. It sounds kind of "mean" or imposing. It's not welcoming. The two names go back and forth, and I am not even sure which is "official" anymore. I believe that the name itself indicates a kind of negativity toward immigration… Read more »

Bobby
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Bobby

I hope these agents are really fired not merely "transferred" Personally, I believe they should go to jail if caught. This will prevent BOI's warning to its agents from being ignored.

Bob
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Bob

Hi Bobby – I agree with you. Something must be done to resolve this issue. For me, I have a resident visa, and everything is up to date on it, so I have no reason to worry regarding immigration matters. But, I hear from so many foreigners here of troubles that they have had with the BOI/BID. When you hear from so many, there must be some problem….. you know, where there is smoke there must be fire!

Tina
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Tina

Hi Bob, The problem here is twofold – 1) there are erring BI officers who should be dealt with accordingly 2) apparently, there are over 100,000 Koreans staying illegally in the Philippines, most of whom are engaged in the retail business (see link below from today's issue of Philippine Star). http://www.philstar.com/index.php?Headlines&p… The latter opens more opportunities for extortion by these rogue BI officers. The Koreans should report these erring BI officers and I believe this is what happened which made the South Korean Ambassador take action. This as a good sign because all these illegal activities wouldn't have surfaced if… Read more »

AmericanLola
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AmericanLola

Yes, Tina has hit the nail on the head. Many Koreans are trying to take advantage of the Philippines and are very willing to do it illegally. Some in the Dept. of Immigration are willing to let them do so, as long as they get they get a piece of te action. Missionaries have been effected by this problem because many Koreans were coming in on missionary visas, and setting up busineses, sometimes even bars. In order to try to keep this from happening, all missionaries were having to renew their residency visa every year, and to report to Manila… Read more »

Bob
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Bob

Hi Tina – I agree completely. There are lots of Koreans who are taking advantage of the Philippines and not obeying the law. The solution is to arrest them and deport them. No problems! I am sure that if this was the procedure the Korean Ambassador would have no problem with it, just as erring Filipinos in Korea are deported, I am sure. However, shaking them down and extorting money is wrong, and it impacts the tourism business of the Philippines. When words gets around (and believe me, it does get around) that tourists in the Philippines are regularly extorted… Read more »

Paul
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Paul

Couldn't help but see the irony for July 18: Comments to "Hey, Why don't they do things my way?" and "Bureau of Immigration running into trouble vs. Korea." Definitely not Kansas! 😀

Bob
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Bob

Hi Paul – We aren't even in Iowa! 😆

Tina
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Tina

Hi Bob, I agree that all undesirable aliens should be deported regardless of nationality. Since we can't deport undesirable Filipinos (rogue BI officers), we should put them in jail and throw away the key! 😡 I would recommend for a tourist who is a victim to 1) file a complaint with the BI and 2) write to the media. It is so easy to send a letter to the editor of any online Philippine newspaper. Exposing these illegal activities is what is going to make them stop. If the government agency doesn't seem to do anything about it, the media… Read more »

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