BI launches anti-terrorist efforts for SEA Games
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has launched efforts to thwart the entry of foreign terrorists and fugitives into the Philippines during the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, which kick-started Saturday night at the Philippine Arena.
Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente disclosed that the BI has been implementing “Project Riptide” since last week as thousands of athletes and visitors to the games began arriving in the country for the event.
“We have mobilized the entire strength of our intelligence units and enlisted the help of our foreign counterparts in seeing to it that these unwanted aliens are not able to come here to disrupt the conduct of the SEA Games,” Morente said.
It can be recalled that Morente placed the Bureau on heightened alert prior to the arrival of SEA Games delegates.
Morente shared that they are likewise implementing "Project Riptide,” which is part of the Interpol’s major event support team (IMEST) program. Said project, according to Morente, is conducted in the country by BI-Interpol in coordination with its counterparts from France and Singapore, as funded by Interpol Tokyo.
BI Port Operations Division Chief Grifton Medina disclosed that Interpol teams have been deployed to the three terminals of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), Clark International Airport (CIA) and other major ports to monitor arriving foreign passengers.
Medina also said immigration officers have been instructed to be extra vigilant in screening passengers to ensure that only foreigners without derogatory records are allowed to enter the country.
“Those whose names are in our blacklist and who are subjects of red notices and alerts from the Interpol are to be immediately excluded and booked on the first available flight back to their port of origin,” Medina added.
Lawyer Rommel Tacorda, BI’s border control and intelligence unit (BCIU) chief, said Interpol launched the IMEST program to assist member-countries in making security preparations for major international events such as the SEA Games and leaders' summit of the Association of Southeast Asian (ASEAN).
“The threats of terrorism and event disruption have forced host countries to dedicate more resources in addressing such threats, thus the the help of Interpol in undertaking security preparations in the lead up to and during the holding of major international events is crucial in ensuring the safety of the delegates,” Tacorda said.
He explained that “Project Riptide” supports the Interpol’s global counter-terrorism strategy by assisting member-countries in identifying and reducing cross-border movements of terrorists and fugitives as well as enabling them to exchange data on these wanted persons via Interpol channels. DMS