Stamping out fake passport stamps

The Philippines Bureau of Immigration (BI) plans to stop using traditional passport stamps by next year and replace them with “invisible stamps” used by other countries.

The bureau will use the German-made Extens SmartStamp, which will automatically scan and print immigration stamps on passports. The stamp will not be visible to the naked eye.

“If plans push through, this modern stamp-free clearance system will save much time,” BI Port Operations Division chief Marc Red Marinas said.

Marinas said modernization of the bureau’s processing system would also help stop syndicates who fabricate immigration stamps to send illegal workers abroad, particularly the Middle East.

BI officials were earlier sent to Canada to examine the equipment. By early next year, officials and technicians from Extens SmartStamp will come to Manila to study the BI data system at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Many Filipino jobseekers abroad have fallen victims of those supplying fake immigration stamps. Marinas disclosed that around 400 Filipino travelers were stopped at the NAIA terminal 3 and other airports in the country in the past administration because of fake immigration stamps.

They were turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking for proper investigation.

Non-stamping of passports has been the system in Hong Kong since 2013 and in Europe.

In Hong Kong immigration, the system was changed to improve efficiency and prevent mistakes. Upon arrival, passengers are issued a slip, which contains the conditions of stay in the former British Colony.

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