So my friends and I were stoked to start off 2016 with a bang.. January was on its tail end and the trip concludes some days just before my big day. There was six of us in the group, My friends Sai, Gelli, Ophie and River arrives a day early, I arrive the next morning and lastly, our friend Cha the evening on the day of my arrival.
Travelling alone, could be quite unnerving, especially if its your first time. To be honest in all my travels, I have always flown with either a family or friends, until this day, I figured it was time for me to do so. At the back of my head, nothing can ever go wrong, not even the bullet-planting scheme that has been going on the past few months in this airport complex.
I’ve been through this, and its gonna be a breeze. I was wrong.
I checked-in for my flight and got my bag tagged for HKG (whew!), paid the travel tax (can’t they include this in the ticket already??) and got my boarding pass. I still had roughly three hours before boarding commenced so it was a leisurely walk to the immigration counters, which was half empty.
The female officer got my passport and boarding pass, and was doing the usual check on the computer when I saw a bit of a frown in her face. She was typing something and checking as if something was amiss. I started to get nervous, I was thinking they are probably up to something. She was asking if I have an NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) Clearance to travel. I said no.
Nonchalantly, she just blurted out: “You have a pending case in court”…W H A T ?
Half of my mind was still in shock the other half was asking a lot of questions.
N o w W h a t ? ?
So now is that her way of telling me that I can’t fly? That I have forgotten to contact a lawyer in cases like these. Should I call my friends or the house? (they are probably sleeping still)
A few minutes past and I am left waiting behind the counter as other travelers whiz past me. As if something sinister had just occurred and it was utterly embarrassing. I was made to wait just outside the immigration office after I was told that they will have to clear things out from the local courts…at this ungodly hour of around 3:30 am..seriously? After half an hour of waiting and it seemed like forever, she got some papers and called to the officer in charge (who I got chatty with). They had a small talk away from me..before I was recalled to go back behind the counter. Why they had to talk away from me still bewilders me to this day.
She told me that the person bearing exactly the same name as mine has a crime and is pending court litigation. She punched something on my passport.
I was finally cleared to go. But not before requiring me to secure a Certificate of Not the Same Person from the Bureau of Immigration Office on my return to Manila. Hassle.
I breathe a sigh of relief anyway as I head to the Skyview Lounge before boarding. We finally started boarding my two-hour flight to Hong Kong by 5:00 am…
As much as I appreciate the stringent security measures undertaken at the airport, I think cases like these can be streamlined. As of the time of this writing, I have already secured the Certificate of Not the Same Person..which was another hassle story, honestly. But there are several layers of security check to verify the individual’s match versus the person at fault. I was told at the B.I. office that cases like these only include the first and last name of the person..why not include the middle name? Second, does the photo, name, home address and date of birth ALL match? What about fingerprints? Why can’t the police (NBI) and Bureau of Immigration streamline their database for a more accurate profile of travelers entering and exiting the country? Hopefully the government can do something about this since these loopholes are really unnecessary hassles on the part of the traveler.
Has anyone encountered something similar in their travels?