Waiver of Exclusion Ground (WEG).
If I had known this, I would have prepared PHP5,240 for extra fixed expenses during my travel to the Philippines and not be shocked by the sudden big amount of pesos I had to spend upon arriving at the airport. In Ringgit Malaysia, that would be about 400!
On Dec 13 last year, I flew to the Philippines with my two nieces – aged 10 then – and my mom. It was a relaxing aeroplane journey until we had to go through immigration at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
It was 11.08pm then. Tired and couldn’t wait to go to our hotel.
“Daughters?” asked the immigration officer as he skimmed through my passport and my nieces’ passport.
“No. My nieces. I’m their aunt.”
“Their parents, ma’am?”
“Parents not travelling along. I have the authorisation letter.”
The immigration officer took the letter and skimmed through. He then said something foreign.
“Sorry? I don’t understand.”
“Waiver…need to pay immigration, ma’am.”
One important thing I learnt upon our arrival at NAIA: Non-Filipino children, who are below 15 and travelling to the Philippines unaccompanied by a parent, need to secure a waiver fee in order to enter the country.
This is called Waiver of Exclusion Ground (WEG) (click here for more details), a requirement under Section 29(a) (12) of the Philippine Immigration Act.
I learnt this while talking to an immigration lady officer, whom I was brought to meet with to settle our immigration problem. Also, after I did a quick check on the Internet because I thought we were about to get conned.
“Do you have peso with you now?” asked the lady officer. I shrugged and she started calculating using her cellphone calculator.
“You will need to pay PHP2,620 per child.”
And that night, I spent PHP5,240 on the immigration fee.
Since we spent almost an hour at the immigration office, our luggage was left unattended. When we finally made our way to the baggage carousels, our bags were missing.
The person at the lost-baggage counter, instead of checking the storeroom, told us to report to the airline staff. I was infuriated at this point.
So, we had to go all the way to the departure hall to speak to the airline staff and had to wait for another (long) minutes. After making numerous phone calls, the airline staff then brought us back to the lost-baggage counter, went to the storeroom, and took our bags out.
I cursed in silent.
I could have avoided this unnecessary situation and travel smoothly if only I had taken the time to check with the Philippines Embassy (or the Internet) about the immigration regulations prior to travelling.
Well, there you go. You learn something about travelling to the Philippines with a minor. I am sure not many people are aware of the WEG. I have never heard of it until Dec 13, 2017.
Having said that, we arrived at our hotel safe and sound at 1.30am++.