eArrival Card (PNA file photo) 

MANILA – The House of Representatives is mulling a congressional inquiry into the reported long queues of Filipino passengers and returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) at Philippine airports despite the introduction of the new eArrival card for arriving travelers. 

In a statement on Friday, House transportation committee chair Romeo Acop said the replacement of the One Health Pass (OHP) requirement with a much simpler eArrival card should have made the arrival of OFWs and returning Filipinos more convenient, not more difficult and miserable.

"Bakit ba nangyayari pa ito? Hindi ba dapat ay mas maginhawa ang buhay ng mga pasahero kasi may eArrival Card na? Bakit mahaba pa din ang pila at tila mas pinahirap ang proseso para sa mga umuuwing Pilipino? (Why is this happening? Shouldn't the eArrival card make it much easier for passengers? Why are the lines still long and the process more difficult for returning Filipinos?)," he said. 

Acop said the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) and the Department of Health - Bureau of Quarantine (DOH-BOQ) should determine the cause of the problem immediately.

“The House Committee on Transportation under the leadership of Speaker Martin G. Romualdez is seriously considering conducting a congressional probe on this if the MIAA and the DOH-BOQ do not address this immediately,” Acop said.

He cited complaints from Filipino passengers enduring long lines at the airports upon arrival, even noting that his colleagues at the House of Representatives conveyed their disappointment when they "saw the long lines at the airports with their own eyes".

VIP treatment dapat ang treatment natin sa mga returning OFWS dahil sa tulong nila sa ating ekonomiya. Pero nakakalungkot masaksihan na pauwi na lang sila sa kanilang pamilya eh dito pa sila sa sariling airport natin mahihirapan (We should give returning OFWS the VIP treatment because of the contribution they made for our economy. But it is saddening to witness how they are having a hard time returning to their families in our very own airports),” he said.

He said it was the Department of Tourism (DOT) which proposed to remove the One Health Pass because of the inconvenience it gave to returning Filipinos at the airports.

Pero parang pareho lang kung hindi man mas malala itong eArrival Card (It seems like this eArrival Card is still the same [as OHP], and could even be worse). MIAA and DOH-BOQ should comprehensively review its implementation and resolve the problems. Otherwise, we will be forced to conduct a probe on this,” Acop said.

Magpa-pasko pa naman. Dadami pa ang uuwing Pilipino sa ating bansa. Ayaw natin na lumala ang haba ng mga pila sa ating airports (Christmas is also near. There would be a lot of Filipinos returning to our country. We don't want them to experience longer lines),” he added.

Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco earlier said the introduction of the eArrival card fulfills part of the Marcos administration's plans to ease the country's stringent entry protocols in order to attract more tourists.

"The eArrival Card stemmed from the DOT’s proposal to remove the OHP especially amidst numerous complaints from inbound travelers to the Philippines and, to improve the same, benchmarking more convenient arrival protocols in the Asean such as Singapore," the agency said.

Prior to the eArrival Card, travelers were required to register for the OHP a few days before their travel, and accomplish the electronic Health Declaration Checklist (eHDC) on the day of departure.

The eArrival Card, the DOT said, removes unnecessary information fields, allowing the easier and faster completion of the traveler registration process.

Tourism-related fields were significantly cut by half, from 20 items under the OHP to now less than 10 items in the eArrival.

Fields such as traveler occupation and educational attainment were also removed.

Upon providing their travel details, personal information, health declaration, and vaccination details on the eArrival Card website: www.onehealthpass.com.ph, travelers will be issued with a unique QR code.

Travelers must then capture a screenshot of the QR code on his/her mobile or computer device and present this to the Bureau of Quarantine (BoQ) officers at their destination airport in the Philippines. (PNA)