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Automation and Digitalisation to Improve Travel Experience at Philippine International Airports

The Philippines Bureau of Immigration (BI) is looking to modernise and automate immigration-related transactions at their international airports early next year. To improve passenger service, the bureau intends to modernise and automate all immigration-related transactions by January 2023, beginning with tourist visa extensions, online visa waiver applications and e-payments.

The bureau finalised the strategy over three days in Manila. Commissioner Norman Tansingco, along with Officer-In-Charge Deputy Commissioners Ronaldo Ledesma and Rogelio Gevero Jr., led the planning activity with key BI officials. During the event, the heads of the various divisions presented the status and evaluation of their current programmes, activities, and projects (PAPs) and proposed PAPs for the next three years.

“These are exciting times for the bureau, as we are driven to implement numerous changes to improve the quality of service we deliver. Strategic planning would allow us to lay down what to expect from the bureau in the next few years,” Tansingco said.

Moreover, the BI chief highlighted the critical focus areas of his administration — anti-corruption, digital transformation, national security, rightsizing, and employee empowerment. “Upon my assumption, the marching orders of (Justice) Secretary (Jesus Crispin) Remulla was to focus on anti-corruption and modernisation. However, I also see a need to strengthen the role of immigration on national security, follow the president’s direction in maximising the personnel complement of the bureau, and improve the welfare of our employees.”

The Philippines’ digital transformation efforts continue to accelerate in the travel sector. Previously, the Philippines introduced E-travel, a contact tracking platform that replaces the One Health Pass and e-Arrival card. The platform aims to collect arrival information and a health declaration checklist for inbound travellers.

The new system is simple; arriving travellers can sign up with personal profiles, travel information, and health declarations. After completing this step, the user will be given a personalised QR code. This service is free, but visitors must sign up at least three days before arriving in the Philippines.

The new service has combined interconnection, data-sharing, and synergy of all the many departments that were divided into several silos into a single system. Meanwhile, the DICT’s Office of the Undersecretary for E-Government (OUEG) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with partner government entities to promote a unified government approach to E-Governance.

The DICT hopes to improve data standards and governance through its efforts to digitally transform government processes and agencies, allowing for data harmonisation and coordination across the government. The effort includes developing, deploying, and integrating systems for Department flagship programmes such as ELGU, E-Government Applications (EGovApp), E-Govpay, E-Travel, and E-Cloud.

The Memorandum of Understanding establishes the partner organisations as crucial players in pursuing digital transformation and e-governance since harmony is the foundation of clarity. As a result, the goals of these initiatives are twofold: to build an ICT-enabled government and to enable its development.

Furthermore, a multinational technology company will provide free professional training to Filipinos through the Career Certificates Scholarship Programme. The DICT currently offers this programme through the ICT Literacy and Competency Development Bureau (ILCDB).

Thanks to this career certificate programme, appropriate skill development and tooling are now easier to obtain. The agency encourages Filipinos to apply for the scholarship and take advantage of the free professional training provided by one of the world’s largest software companies.

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