A Filipino traveler just missed her flight to Israel, as an immigration officer at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) allegedly subjected her to incessant questioning that included showing her graduation yearbook.
Cham Tanteras in a viral TikTok video aired her frustrations, saying she went to NAIA Terminal 1 early only to be sent to the Bureau of Immigration (BI) office for interview.
The BI officer asked her basic questions like flight history and reason for traveling. Things took a turn when she was asked whether her parents are separated or not, and if she graduated or not.
Upon saying she graduated 10 years ago, Tanteras said she was asked for proof by showing her graduation yearbook.
@chamtanteras I missed my flight because of the immigration! #immigration #naia #travelphilippines #travelabroad #israel #palestine #naiaterminal1 #immigrationissues #travelingnomad #traveltips #islandgirl #siargao #islandlife #fyp #foryoupage ♬ original sound - Cham | Siargao Island Life 🌴
Noting that it's too heavy and impractical to bring during travel, especially to Israel, she was instead asked for her graduation photo. She's able to show a wacky shot she had on her phone, only for the officer to ask if it was really her as she's supposedly fat there.
Tanteras eventually missed her flight as more questions followed even as she was asked to fill out a border control questionnaire form and write an essay about boodle and freelancing.
Costing her P19,000 for the missed flight, she had no choice but to book another one the very next day for P27,000.
In a statement, the BI said it "immediately conducted" an investigation and asked the officer for a full report on the incident.
In its defense, the agency said the questioning is part of its protocol to combat human trafficking and illegal recruiting.
"The BI seeks consideration and understanding as the agency is constrained to implement strict measures to assess departing passengers," it said.
In a follow-up video, Tanteras didn't approve of the BI's statement, saying it still doesn't pertain as to why she was asked for her yearbook.
"I know it could happen—and it already happened—to a lot of Filipinos," she said.
@chamtanteras Replying to @Cham | Siargao Island Life 🌴 I feel like I just had to… In behalf of the rest of the Filipinos who just want to travel, we create an uproar! #naiaimmigration #naiaairport #notodiscrimination #offload #naiaimmigrationofficerredflag #fyp #frequenttraveler #immigration #naia #travelphilippines #travelabroad #israel #palestine #naiaterminal1 #immigrationissues #travelingnomad #digitalnomad #traveltips #islandgirl #holyland #holylandtour #siargao #islandlife #foryoupage #trending #traveltok #travelph ♬ original sound - Cham | Siargao Island Life 🌴
While she "completely understands" issues like human trafficking, and that the BI is just doing its mandate, Tanteras said it shouldn't be at the expense of missing her flight.
She also acknowledged netizens' speculations that the officer was perhaps waiting for under the table bribes, especially that her requirements are all complete and there were no plans to offload her in the first place.
“I would rather book another flight than to participate in the corruption," she said.
"So, to the Bureau of Immigration, stop relating your incompetency to the current issues like human trafficking. You're just being defensive. You're not solving the problem. You're the problem."