Is travel to the Philippines safe? Recent kidnappings and the bullet planting scam at the Manila airport might have you reconsidering a visit to the Philippines.
I had concerns. Having not left the Philippines since my arrival over five years ago, I was worried that even though I was in possession of a 13a Permanent Visa, I would not be able to get my Emmigration Exit Clearance, ECC, at the airport. Though I had been assured by my local Bureau of Immigration Office in Iloilo that I could obtain my ECC at NAIA, I still had my worries. I felt better after contacting Randy Landis who reaffirmed what my local BI Office told me, but you never know about Immigration officials at the Manila Airport. There are too many online horror stories about foreigners being “shaken down” and having to pay extra fees to leave the country. To my knowledge, if you have a Tourist Visa and have not left the Philippines in over six months, you will need to process your ECC at a local Bureau of Immigration Office that can handle that process. It cannot be done at the airport anymore per a directive from Bureau of Immigration Director Mison.
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) earned a 16-percent increase in income from visa extension fees collected from foreign tourists who visited the country during the first five months of the year. Applications for tourist visa extension rose by six percent from January to May, compared to the same period in 2012.
A new six-month, Long Stay Visitor Visa Extension (LSVVE) will soon be available for foreigners intending to stay in the Philippines longer. Currently non-visa required nationals are admitted for 21 days and have had the option to extend their stay in the archipelago by applying for a visa waiver. This current visa waiver entitles them to an additional stay of 38 days and allows them to stay in the Philippines for a period of 59 days. If you want to stay longer, the tourist visa has to be renewed.