PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III has ordered the arrival and departure cards in all the airports disposed of and changed—those left out of the 30 million printed—after seeing his beaming likeness as he filled out his departure card for San Francisco.
Mr. Aquino disapproves of officials placing their pictures on streamers and billboards announcing their sponsorship of government projects, and on Thursday an Immigration official said Malacañang had ordered them to remove the cards bearing the President’s smiling picture and to replace them immediately.
“We received the order Tuesday night, and we’ve started replacing the new cards with the old ones without the President’s photo,” Immigration spokesman Jun Alano said.
It appeared that the Airline Operators Council, which has been providing the departure and arrival cards for the past 10 years at no cost to the government, had the six-inch-by-four-inch cards printed in July and paid P15 million—or P0.50 per card—for them. The cards were then distributed to all the country’s international airports.
Records showed that more than 15 million passengers arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport last year, while 9 million passengers departed it that same year.
The Mactan International Airport and the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport served a combined 5 million passengers.
About 18 million arrival and departure cards are used in the country’s aiports each year, with Philippine Airlines accounting for about 5 million and Cebu Pacific for 3 million. The remaining 10 million cards are used up by the 30-member Airline Operators Council.
Immigration sources said the agency signed a contract with X-tend, a private company, last year to take over the council’s job of printing and distributing the cards. The photograph of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Immigration Commissioner Marcelino Libanan Jr. both appeared on the 10- inch-by-5inch cards.
Vito Barcelo, Eric Apolonio, Willy Balasa, Manila Standard Today