The Bureau of Immigration (BI) said electronic gates (e-gates) will be installed at the departure area of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) before Christmas to speed up the processing and reduce passenger queues in immigration counters during the holiday rush.
Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said the bureau signed a memorandum of agreement with Ascent Solutions, a Singapore-based IT company, for the pilot testing of the e-gates, initially at the NAIA Terminal 2 immigration departure area.
Last year, the e-gate system was implemented in the immigration arrival areas of NAIA’s three terminals and the international airports in Mactan-Cebu, Davao, and Clark where a noticeable drop in the incidence of long queues at the airports has been attributed to the successful implementation of the project.
“We are optimistic that the same success will be replicated when the scheme becomes fully operational in our airports’ immigration departure areas,” the BI chief said in a statement.
Morente added that in the case of e-gates installed at the immigration arrival areas, the new lanes shall cater only to departing overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in order to ensure smoother and faster processing for them in recognition of their contributions to the country’s economic development.
“We also thank President Rodrigo Duterte and Sen. Bong Go for their support in this project. The welfare of our OFWs are always their top priority and concern,” he said.
On the order hand, BI port operations division chief Grifton Medina said the project’s pilot testing and demonstration would last for six months and they are targeting to process at least 100,000 passengers before the project could become fully operational.
The project’s entire cost, which was not revealed will be shouldered by the service provider which supplied the country’s e-gates.
He added that the IT company has committed to initially install and operate two e-gates and biometric machines at NAIA’s Terminal 2 for the exclusive use of departing OFWs and airline crew of Philippine Airlines.
Medina said the MOA allows the provider to demonstrate the functions and capability of its machines and that there is no obligation yet on the part of BI for the equipment.
He added the other classes of passengers will continue to undergo regular immigration inspection, although the BI is studying the feasibility of making the scheme available to permanent residents and other Alien Certificate Registration Identity-Card holders. (PNA)