ANTICIPATING an influx of foreign volunteers from non-government organizations abroad for Super Typhoon Yolanda victims in the Eastern Visayas, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) is asking volunteers to first seek a special working permit (SWP) from their home countries and organizations before seeking entry into the country.
At the same time, the bureau has been distributing thank you postcards and displaying tarpaulins expressing gratitude to nationals of over 40 countries for their overwhelming support to the Yolanda survivors.
Officer-in-Charge Siegfred Mison of BI said BI’s frontline officers are distributing “thank you postcards” since the bureau is the most visited agency by foreigners.
“Their respective governments, NGOs and individuals have campaigned and are still campaigning for donations for Yolanda survivors in Leyte, Tacloban and Iloilo, among others. Since the support is overwhelming, let us say thank you in our own little way,” Mison said.
The BI has also displayed tarpaulins in all the international airports of the country.
“They say they would come here to help in Yolanda, but we ask them [foreign nationals]for credentials from what company [they belong][and their]capability to render help and relief,” Mison said.
BI spokesperson Angelica Pedro said that foreign nationals who arrived the country were told to secure their SWPs—a standard operating procedure at BI—before they can render services to Yolanda survivors.
Mison emphasized that foreign nationals who entered Philippines without legal credentials were told to “return back” to their country to comply and secure the necessary documents.
BI records showed at least four foreign nationals who have entered Cebu without permit. But from Metro Manila, there have been no illegal entry yet.
Mison clarified that individual foreigners wanting to render services to Yolanda victims “are more welcome to work” so long as they have the special work permits, which would detail their actual expertise and scope of work in the Philippines.
“We are checking their capability to render services to Yolanda survivors. We just want to be sure they are here to help,” he said.
A few days after Typhoon Yolanda struck Visayas, humanitarian efforts coming mostly from foreign nationals have been coming, prompting the BI to relax its immigration requirements, as long as they have the visas.
“We are acknowledging their noble intention to our fellowmen, but they must not disregard our rules and regulations. We just don’t want to be a laughingstock,” said Pedro.
Meanwhile, the BI has granted the request for “indigency” of 25 Vietnamese nationals who survived Yolanda.
The Vietnamese have lived for several years in the Philippines lost their livelihood and travel documents in the typhoon,” said the letter of Hoang Nghia Cang, third secretary of the Vietnam Embassy to the BI.
Further Cang has requested that the Vietnamese be repatriated back to their country on humanitarian consi-deration, which was immediately granted by the BI.