The Bureau of Immigration (BI) reminded Filipinos intending to travel abroad as tourists that they are still restricted from leaving the country amid the continuing national health emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
BI Commissioner Jaime Morente issued the statement after receiving a report that six Filipinos were recently barred from going to Cambodia via a special chartered flight from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
The said passengers were reportedly offloaded because they are mere tourists whose purpose in going abroad is not essential.
“We want to reiterate that Filipinos are still prohibited from leaving the country unless they are Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), holders of study visas or permanent residents in the country of their destination,” Morente said.
The BI chief appealed to the public for understanding, saying the bureau will continue to implement existing international travel restrictions until these are lifted by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
According to BI port operations chief Grifton Medina, the six passengers were offloaded from their flight last June 29 after they informed the immigration officer that they were going to Phnom Penh merely to attend a business meeting on shrimp farming.
It was learned that there have been already several instances of departing Filipinos tourists who were barred from boarding their flights at the NAIA since the government imposed restrictions on international travel.
Medina urged Filipinos who wish to embark on leisure trips or visit their relatives to be patient and wait for the IATF-EID to lift the said travel restrictions.