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

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 21) — The Filipino traveler who went viral for sharing her unpleasant experience with an officer of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) is now asking for financial compensation for the costs she incurred when she missed her flight due to the incident.

The government agency, however, said it may not be able to grant her request.

"Aside from the financial damages, I'm seeking accountability because I'm trying to avoid this to happen in the future," Cham Tanteras, the traveler, told CNN Philippines' The Source.

Tanteras recently went viral on TikTok after she shared her story about missing her flight to Israel in December following a lengthy interview with a BI officer.

After swiftly passing the first interview, Tanteras said she was then required to undergo secondary inspection by a BI agent.

During that time, she claimed she was asked several "irrelevant" questions, and was even asked to show her yearbook to prove she was a graduate.

Despite knowing that passengers already had to board the plane at the time, Tanteras said the officer continued with his questioning and she ended up missing her flight.

She said her missed flight was worth ₱19,000, while the one she rebooked the next day was worth ₱27,000. The ticket price did not include other costs like paying again for travel tax and other small ones, she noted.

On March 16, the BI issued an apology and said an investigation already started. 

BI spokesperson Dana Sandoval told CNN Philippines that the concerned officer has been transferred to a back-end office while the probe is underway

However, Sandoval noted that Tanteras' request for financial compensation is not within the scope of the agency.

"What we can do on our part is initiate disciplinary action should we find that our immigration officer has been remiss of his duty," she noted. "So if we see that the immigration officer was not able to conduct his or her duties well or properly during incidents then we initiate disciplinary action."

Sandoval said the BI has a board of discipline that assesses cases concerning the agency's personnel.

They will next be forwarded to the Department of Justice for the imposition of sanctions based on civil service rule, she added.