BI officer in viral TikTok video relieved, denies requesting for yearbook, agency says

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 21) — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) officer involved in a recent viral TikTok video about a traveler missing her flight because of a lengthy interview has been relieved, but claimed that what he conducted was just a regular inspection, the agency said Tuesday.

“He has been relieved from his post, so he has been re-assigned to a back-end office,” BI spokesperson Dana Sandoval told CNN Philippines’ The Source.

Cham Tanteras, who was supposed to travel on Dec. 21 to Israel, recently shared on social media her experience when she missed her flight after a lengthy interview by a BI agent.

READ: Traveler in viral immigration incident wants financial compensation; BI says it's unlikely

Sandoval said investigation into the incident is still ongoing, but the officer involved has denied requesting for Tanteras’ yearbook.

He claimed that what he did was a regular secondary interview, the official added.

The government official said there may have been a lack of communication during the process.

“We see that the main problem here is a lack of communication, wherein he might not have been able to explain properly to the passenger what just had happened and why were additional questions being asked,” Sandoval pointed out.

According to Tanteras, she was not only asked to present her yearbook, but was also asked "irrelevant" questions, like the marital status of her parents.

She added that the officer also grabbed her mobile phone to check if she indeed personally booked her flight.

Sandoval clarified that such questions and requirements are not part of any BI officer's inspection process.

BI officers are also guided by a memorandum that prohibits them from getting a travelers' mobile phone or any device without consent, she added.

While the probe is ongoing, Sandoval said they are currently reviewing their guidelines, while also making sure it will not affect their main goal of preventing illegal recruitment and human trafficking.

Officers and supervisors are also being retrained to improve their way of handling situations, she added.