MANILA, Philippines - The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Thursday said its directive refusing to stamp Chinese passports applies to both old and new passports of the People’s Republic of China.
"My memorandum to our immigration officers is clear. We will not stamp All Chinese Passports. It does not matter if the passport is old and new,” BI Commissioner Ricardo David Jr. said in a statement.
David issued the clarification following reports that the new visa policy applies only to Chinese e-passports bearing the map of the disputed islands in the South China Sea.
The BI chief said the government decided to uniformly implement the new policy to avoid confusion in the country’s foreign service and immigration offices.
In the case of China ’s new e-passport, the immigration officer shall instead place the BI stamp on the backpage of the visa application form provided by the Philippine consulate in China and which bears the DFA-issued visa.
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However, if a Chinese passenger presents an old PROC passport, the immigration officer shall have the passport page bearing the DFA-issued visa photocopied and on it shall the BI stamp be placed.
The BI started implementing the new policy Monday after the DFA issued a foreign service circular on the new visa procedure for Chinese nationals wishing to visit the Philippines.
David’s memorandum to BI offices instructs them to “refrain from placing any immigration stamps on PROC passports.”
The directive applies to all BI stamps, including arrival, departure, conversion, downgrading, and extension stamps, the BI chief said.
The DFA has objected to China ’s move to include the disputed islands’ map on its new passport, saying it is a violation of international law.
Manila and Beijing are locked in a dispute over a number territories in the resource-rich South China Sea.