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BI beefs up anti-terror units

By: Jun Ramirez

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has strengthened its anti-terrorist units in all the major ports of entry nationwide to bolster the agency’s capability in thwarting the entry of foreign terrorists.

BI Commissioner Jaime Morente disclosed yesterday that the anti-terrorist units, composed of seasoned immigration intelligence agents, have been in place since last month at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and some other airports and seaports outside Metro Manila.

Morente said agents assigned to these units have been discreetly monitoring and profiling arriving foreigners and assisting immigration officers in screening passengers undergoing primary inspection in the airport counters.

“Foreign passengers who behave suspiciously or appear as likely to become public charge are subjected to secondary inspection,” the BI chief said.

Morente stressed that possession of an entry visa it not a guarantee that an alien will be permitted to enter and stay in the country, saying the latter “should be able to convincingly explain his purpose in coming here, his financial capacity, and the places where he intends to stay or visit.”

BI port operations division chief Marc Red Mariñas said he proposed the activation of the anti-terrorist units in reaction to reports that foreign jihadists from countries in Asia and the Middle East were spotted along with members of the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups fighting government troops in Marawi City.