Manila Airport Personnel Banned from Saying Merry Christmas

In this season of greetings, personnel of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) assigned at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) are directed not to greet arriving and departing passengers “Merry Christmas” to avoid the impression that they are soliciting gifts, whether in cash or kind, it was learned Tuesday. BI acting Chief Ronaldo Ledesma, in a statement, said a warm and friendly smile of an immigration officer is enough to express his or her desire to express the Christmas season to an arriving or departing passengers.

The ban on Merry Christmas has garnered world-wide attention with coverage in USA Today and on Fox News.

“Such gesture, even if sincere, might be misconstrued as asking for a tip so it’s better that they refrain from extending the greeting,” he added.

Ledesma said that while some quarters might view the ban as extreme, protecting the reputation of the bureau and its employees is a paramount concern.

“It is not good for our immigration officers at the airports, who are the first to meet arriving Filipino and foreign travelers, to be perceived as gift solicitors,” he explained. “They can just give the passengers a warm and friendly smile and a very efficient service above all.”

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