WEST PHILIPPINE SEA

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BI resumes stamping on Chinese passports

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Wednesday said it will resume arrival and departure stamping on the regular e-passports of nationals from the People’s Republic of China (PROC).

In a memorandum issued by BI Commissioner Jaime Morente, immigration officers in the different ports may now affix their stamps adjacent to the Philippine visa of a regular e-passport presented by a Chinese passenger.

He said the change in policy is in compliance with the Department of Foreign Affairs’ (DFA) recently-issued foreign service circular (FSC) instructing its consular officers to affix the Philippine visa on the pages of Chinese passports where the nine-dash line map is drawn.

“We support this policy update of the DFA,” the BI chief said in a statement.

Morente said the previous practice of stamping on a separate sheet of paper has been proven to be problematic as these sheets are easily lost and misplaced by holders.

“In the past, we have also expressed security concerns over the old practice because sheets of papers can easily be lost,” he added.

In 2012, the bureau stopped the practice of stamping on Chinese passports at the height of Manila’s territorial dispute with Bejing over the West Philippine Sea.

This is in connection with an earlier move of the DFA to place Philippine visas of Chinese nationals on a separate sheet of paper.

The said policy was implemented after China introduced a new e-passport with pages that included the historic nine-dash line map where it bases its claim to the disputed islands. (PNA)