The Bureau of Immigration (BI) is set to reactivate its electronic gate system (e-gate) scheme to assist Filipinos arriving from abroad in time for the Christmas holidays next month.
Commissioner Jaime Morente said Tuesday the revival of the system will fast-track the immigration processing time for travelers and avoid long queues at the airports.
He said the use of the e-gates cuts the processing time for passengers from the present 45 seconds to only eight to 15 seconds.
Aside from biometric scanning, the e-gates have other modern security features such as facial recognition, bar code reading, and smart card recognition.
It can also detect passengers with derogatory records, including wanted fugitives and those who are on the immigration blacklist, watch list and hold departure list.
There were fears that passengers could be exposed to and contaminated by the virus as the scheme requires passengers to have their fingers biometrically scanned by machines before they could pass through the e-gates.
“We are also implementing strict regular disinfection of the area to prevent transmission,” Morente said in a statement.
Meanwhile, BI acting ports operations chief Carlos Capulong has ordered his technical staff to initially conduct a dry run of the e-gates currently installed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) prior to its full operationalization by end of November.
“These e-gates are intended only for Filipinos, especially returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). However, children, senior citizens on wheelchairs, and other handicapped travelers may be serviced by a special lane,” Capulong added.
Launched in August 2018, the bureau’s e-gates have been in operation until March 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic prompted the BI management to suspend the scheme.
Other e-gates procured under the PHP329 million project, which was jointly funded by the national government and International Air Transport Association, were also installed at the international airports in Clark, Pampanga, and Mactan, Cebu. (PNA)