By: Edgardo M. Lopez, Esq.
“…[I]f we dare state it so simply, is that there are no boundaries in the universe….” Ken Wilber, No Boundary: Eastern and Western Approaches to Personal Growth
Ken Wilber may be correct in today’s world of globalization. But in reality, borders and boundary lines are drawn through the enforcement of immigration laws by every country throughout the world. And the Philippines is no exception.
The Philippines strictly implements its immigration laws through Commonwealth Act 613 otherwise known as the Philippine Immigration Act. In general. the Act prohibits the entry of aliens who have been convicted of crimes in their respective countries; aliens who had not been convicted of any crime but are fugitives in their home countries; or those who had been in the Philippines before but are considered undesirable aliens for overstaying in the country without proper authorization or those who have had violated Philippine laws. The enforcement of Philippine immigration laws are enforced by the Bureau of Immigration (“BI”).
Aliens prohibited from entering the Philippines and who are issued Black List Order (BLO), are denied entry into the country and aliens who are not aware that they are in the BLO list, may find themselves catching the next flight back home after arriving at a Philippine airport.
Those aliens who had violated Philippine laws and who are thereafter deported, are automatically reported in the BI system for inclusion in the BLO manifest. On the other hand, aliens who have had criminal records or those who are fugitives from their mother countries, are usually reported by the foreign countries’ embassies based in the Philippines. Once the information is reported by said foreign embassies to the BI, BLOs are issued.
If you find yourself in the BLO list, the only remedy is to write to the Commissioner of BI requesting that the BLO order issued against you be lifted. It appears a simple process but to those who are not familiar with how the Philippine government functions, it is not as simple as it sounds. More often than not, BI employees do not know what the heck is going on. If you requests a copy of the BLO order, chances
are, either the file could not be located and if its located, the file has to be retrieved from storage or archives.
If you call and the BI personnel who happens to answer the phone does not have your physical file in front of him or her, you will not get anything even the most basic information. There is no centralized record data base that can readily be accessed by BI employees. On the other hand, if your representative or someone acting in your behalf has the luxury of time of going to the BI headquarters in Manila, to obtain records/and or information, they’ve better be ready to spend a whole day or two just to locate the right person to talk to about your case. And by talking to someone does not guarantee that the right information or document could be obtained.
Just to get a copy of the BLO order and pertinent records related to your case is an uphill battle but what is more challenging is the filing of the lifting of the BLO and the process that follows.
You file your letter request to the BI to lift the BLO, but the question is, will it get filed in the Commissioner’s office? There are many anecdotes where requests had been filed and submitted but months later, no BI personnel assigned in the Commissioner’s office was aware of the existence of a particular request. Or if they know that a request was made, more often than not, a BI personnel does not know the status. A familiar response is, “The Commissioner has it but we do not know when he is going to act on it.”
It is a tedious process to have your BLO lifted. If you are a busy person, impatient and weak-hearted, you should not try to get into this experience. Doing this yourself is like hitting a brick wall. Long story short – retain someone who knows the ropes of lifting a BLO in the Philippines. Contact the Filipino Law Group, we are ready to assist you.