Manila: Starting Thursday, Filipino passengers arriving at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 will spend less time at the immigration section with the installation of the “E-gate” project.

Immigrations Commissioner Jaime Morente, said the E-gate will not only expedite the processing of passengers coming to the Philippines from abroad, but also enhance security against undesirables.

“Aside from facilitating expeditious passenger processing, the project will also enhance the BI’s ability to detect travellers with questionable records, including wanted fugitives and those who are on the immigration blacklist, watch list and hold-departure list,” he said.

The new system is expected to boost the country’s security against the entry of terrorists and other criminals as it has facial recognition capabilities and other security features.

Morente stated that other than facial recognition, it also has biometric scanning, bar code reading, and smart card recognition, all incorporated into one system.

The E-gates have been installed at NAIA3, however there are plans to install these at the country’s other international gateways in the coming months.

Since the project is in its infancy only Filipino passengers, and those with machine readable passports can use it now. Children, senior citizens on wheelchairs and other handicapped travellers will have to be processed at the regular counters.

A total of 21 E-gates will be installed this year in 5 major international airports. Eleven will be installed at NAIA Terminals 1 and 3, while five will later operate in Mactan, three at Clark, and two in Davao.

Morente said with the system, the bureau expects to cut the standard processing time for every traveller to only about 8 to 15 seconds from the present average of 45 seconds.

“This project could not have come at a more opportune time in view of the steadily increasing volume of international flights and travellers that enter and exit the country every day,” he said, adding that the bureau is still hampered by their lack of manpower in the different airports.

Immigration Port Operations Division chief Marc Red Mariñas, pointed out that the P329 million (Dh22.59 million) project was funded by the national government and is an initiative of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) through its Fast Travel programme.

Immigration Deputy Commissioner J. Tobias Javier described the E-gate system as a “fast travel and accurate border clearing system” that will “eliminate errors in passenger verification and provide the bureau with a quick system to detect persons of interest trying to cross the country’s borders”.

“It not only expedites our clearing time but reduce human errors in our passenger clearing process,” Javier said.