THE Bureau of Immigration (BI) has received more than 120,000 queries in 2020 from its hotline, email and other social media platforms over public concerns on international travel restrictions caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
The BI National Operations Center (Binoc) disclosed on Thursday that it received and attended to some 120,438 queries, a 141 percent increase compared to the previous year.
Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said queries received via emails registered the highest increase at 197 percent while queries coursed through social media rose by 77 percent.
The bureau, Morente added, attended to the queries, mostly about information on government restrictions on international travel, which started during the lockdown in March last year.
Acting Binoc chief Djamina Diampuan also reported that aside from travel requirements, her office also responded to queries regarding other transactions and services offered by the BI.
“We see that the increase is a result of quarantine protocols, because the usual ones that would go to our offices nationwide for information now ask via electronic channels to ensure social distancing,” she added.
Apart from the BI’s hotlines, Morented also maintains a direct portal on Facebook called Immigration Helpline PH.
“For concerns and reports, we maintain a helpline page and reports from this go directly to my office,” said Morente.
It will be recalled that for two consecutive years in 2019 and 2020, the BI was one of the recipients of the Freedom of Information (FOI) compliant award from the Presidential Communications Operations Office for excellence in giving the public access to information about its programs and services.
Aside from the Binoc’s communication channels, the BI maintains a separate eFOI portal through which requests for information from the public are relayed.