Muscle Your Way In

A Ghanaian national tried to enter the Philippines but was denied because the immigration officer found him to be a potential public charge, of doubtful purpose and he lacked an itinerary. In his prior visit, the foreigner overstayed. During the processing, the foreigner claimed the officer tried to extort from him.

Respicio & Co. represents the foreigner.

Immigration, Law Firm, Philippines

Just because one is denied entry into the country does not mean one is blacklisted.  It is advisable to procure a clearance certificate from the Bureau of Immigration. The clearance will tell that a name is not on any of the derogatory databases, lists or records of the Bureau, including the blacklist. The clearance can be obtained in one day.

If a name is not on the lists, there is no problem coming back, theoretically speaking. Holders of Ghanaian passports may enter the Philippines as tourists without a visa and stay for 30 days, provided they have their passports with them (of course) and return tickets. (The passports and the return tickets are important, as these are the ‘proper documentations’ required by law. Under Section 6 of the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940, “Immigrant Inspectors are authorized to exclude any alien not properly documented…”)

While the immigration officers have the prerogative to decline entry of foreigners, they must do so without arbitrariness, that is, the ground for refusal must be among those provided by law. These grounds are: 

(Philippine Immigration Act of 1940)

Sec. 29. (a) The following classes of aliens shall be excluded from entry into the Philippines:

(1) Idiots or insane persons and persons who have been insane;

(2) Persons afflicted with a loathsome or dangerous contagious disease, or epilepsy:

(3) Persons who have been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude;

(4) Prostitutes, or procurers, or persons coming for any immoral purposes;

(5) Persons likely to become public charge;

(6) Paupers, vagrants, and beggars;

(7) Persons who practice polygamy or who believe in or advocate the practice of polygamy;

(8) Persons who believe in or advocate the overthrow by force and violence of the Government of the Philippines, or of constituted lawful authority, or who disbelieve in or are opposed to organized government, or who advocate the assault or assassination of public officials because of their office, or who advocate or teach principles, theories, or ideas contrary to the Constitution of the Philippines or advocate or teach the unlawful destruction of property, or who are members of or affiliated with any organization entertaining or teaching such doctrines;

(9) Persons over fifteen years of age, physically capable of reading, who cannot read printed matter in ordinary use in any language selected by the alien, but this provision shall not apply to the grandfather, grandmother, father, mother, wife, husband or child of a Philippine citizen or of an alien lawfully resident in the Philippines;

(10) Persons who are members of a family accompanying an excluded alien, unless in the opinion of the Commissioner of Immigration no hardship would result from their admission

(11) Persons accompanying an excluded person who is helpless from mental or physical disability or infancy, when the protection or guardianship of such accompanying person or persons is required by the excluded person, as shall be determined by the Commissioner of Immigration;

(12) Children under fifteen years of age, unaccompanied by or not coming to a parent, except that any such children may be admitted in the discretion of the Commissioner of Immigration, if otherwise admissible;

(13) Stowaways, except that any stowaway may be admitted in the discretion of the Commissioner of Immigration, if otherwise admissible;

(14) Persons coming to perform unskilled manual labor in pursuance of a promise or offer of employment, express or implied, but this provision shall not apply to persons bearing passport visas authorized by Section Twenty of this Act;

(15) Persons who have been excluded or deported from the Philippines, but this provision may be waived in the discretion of the Commissioner of Immigration: Provided, however, That the Commissioner of Immigration shall not exercise his discretion in favor of aliens excluded or deported on the ground of conviction for any crime involving moral turpitude or for any crime penalized under Sections Forty-Five and Forty-Six of this Act or on the ground of having engaged in hoarding, black-marketing or profiteering unless such aliens have previously resided in the Philippines immediately before his exclusion or deportation for a period of ten years or more or are married to native Filipino women;

(16) Persons who have been removed from the Philippines at the expense of the Government of the Philippines, as indigent aliens, under the provisions of section forty-three of this Act, and who have not obtained the consent of the Board of Commissioners to apply for readmission; and 

(17) Persons not properly documented for admission as may be required under the provisions of this Act.

While a refusal of entry may be mistaken, there is no document that can guarantee entry on the next attempt. There is no such a thing as a guaranteed visa, as one's eligibility of entry must be determined at the port, regardless of whether one holds a visa or not.

If a name is on the blacklist, it can be removed by writing a letter to/filing a petition before the Immigration Commissioner.

If a name is not on the list, no further legal move will reduce the possibility of being declined entry again. The battle boils down to fighting arbitrary immigration officers. It is advisable that if one suffers more scrutiny than ordinary, one must phone a lawyer. A lawyer can argue one's legitimate position before the immigration officers.

It is not uncommon to encounter corrupt officials at the airport. Just recently, in November last year, the media had a holiday exposing the practice of airport officials planting bullets in luggages to extort money from unsuspecting passengers. This scandalised the Bureau and led to prosecutions of some officials. It is hoped that this shamed and frightened the rest of the corrupt airport officials and prompted change.

The best way to handle arbitrary officials is to call in a lawyer. These officials will desist from their corrupt intentions if faced by a knowledgeable attorney who can ably defend his client and can lawfully threaten them with prosecution.

The Respicio & Co. team is led by Partner Atty. Melosino Respicio and supported by Harold Respicio.