THE BUREAU of Immigration on Wednesday announced it will resume stamping on regular e-passports of nationals from the People’s Republic of China. The use of arrival and departure stamps on Chinese passports was stopped in 2012 when China introduced e-passports that showed their nine-dash line claim in the South China Sea. Since then, Philippine visas on Chinese passports were placed on a separate sheet of paper. “We support this policy update of the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs),” BI Commissioner Jaime H. Morente said in a statement on Wednesday. “In the past, we have also expressed security concerns over the old practice because sheets of papers can easily be lost,” he added. The nine-dash line is China’s historical claim over the South China Sea, which a 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration invalidated. The same ruling affirmed the Philippines claims over the West Philippine Sea. Mr. Morente has already issued a memorandum directing immigration officers at ports to affix Philippine visa stamps to Chinese regular e-passports. “The change in policy complies with the DFA’s recently-issued foreign service circular instructing its Philippine consular officers to affix the Philippine visa on the pages of Chinese passports where the nine-dash line map is drawn.” — Charmaine A. Tadalan
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