Actor Tony Labrusca, despite being apologetic for his behavior at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, is not off the hook yet and might still be deported, according to the Bureau of Immigration (BI).
While Labrusca was granted a 30-day visa, BI spokesperson Dana Sandoval said the agency would still look into his record of stay in the country.
“What happened at the airport has already been resolved by our supervisor… Now, if we will see that he violated an Immigration rule while in the country, for example if he worked here in the past without the proper permit or visa, then that could be a reason to initiate a deportation (proceeding) against him,” Sandoval explained.
The actor might be blacklisted or barred from returning to the country aside from being deported. He would only be allowed to return if the BI issues a lift order.
In the instance that Labrusca would be deported, he could file a legal complaint to contest his deportation before the BI or the Department of Justice (DOJ). As of Tuesday, January 8, however, no deportation case was filed against him.
Labrusca drew flak on January 3, Thursday, for shouting at an immigration officer who only gave him a 30-day visa.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. even wanted him deported, taking his opinion on Twitter after the incident.
“Just deport him,” Locsin said in reaction to the airport incident.
Labrusca has already apologized for his actions on his social media accounts, explaining he was just frustrated and was not aware of the policy that he needed to be with his parents to qualify for a balikbayan stamp.
“It was very upsetting for me. And I’m sorry that I somehow took my frustrations out on the officer. But never did I call anyone stupid, nor an idiot, much less brag about being a celebrity,” he said.
“I know for a fact that the officer is merely doing her job. My biggest mistake perhaps was letting my emotions get the better of me and again I’m sorry,” he added.
Labrusca was warned by the BI on Friday, January 4, reminding the actor the limits of privileges accorded to returning Filipinos.
The one-year visa privilege is for former Filipinos and their immediate family members who are traveling with them, it said.
Requirement puzzles DFA chief
Locsin said he is puzzled with a Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) policy that requires the birth certificate for passport renewals.
Locsin questioned why it is necessary for applicants to submit their birth certificates when renewing their passports on Twitter after an exchange with an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who encountered a problem renewing his passport.
“Isn’t the expired passport sufficient ID? How many times do you have to prove you are what the State declared you are in the expired passports?” he said. The tweet was directed to assistant secretary Elmer Cato.
“Why even need to show birth certificate when he is holding a government-issued passport that’s expired and he wants it renewed,” he added.
Cato’s replies are now deleted, but he explained that the birth certificate requirement would allow the department to capture additional data, especially from those who have yet to obtain an e-passport.
“Fact that they are holding a genuine government document is totally sufficient. What we are trying to do is play catch up with personal data while renewing passports. Can’t do two things at the same time,” replied Locsin.
“Passports are not prima facie evidence. They are conclusive evidence that you are what your passport says. Otherwise you will need to show video of your parents copulating, you gestating in the womb, being delivered and growing up sufficiently to look like you do now,” he added.
Locsin gave a suggestion to OFWs, saying they should keep documents like birth certificates for passport renewals and other things that require them like school enrollments.
He also suggested to renew passports as early as two years before expiry for Filipinos working in an inaccessible area, due to the pace of renewal process.
Cato, for his part, said the problem would be addressed by the new passports with 10-year validity.