The Philippines has banned an American traveler for life accused of writing “profane words” on a digital immigration form and being rude to immigration officials.
Anthony Laurence, 34, was refused entry and permanently blacklisted following his alleged “disrespectful” behavior, Philippine Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Norman Tansingco said in a statement. declaration last week.
Laurence had flown to Ninoy Aquino International Airport in the capital Manila from Bangkok, Thailand, via an Air Asia flight on Nov. 7, according to the statement.
According to Philippine authorities, upon his arrival, he allegedly “showed contempt” towards an immigration officer when he was reminded to fill out an online travel form and threw his passport and mobile phone to another.
Laurence, who told CNN he is a real estate investor who lives in the country on and off, disputes the immigration authority’s account.
Immigration Commissioner Tansingco said in his statement that: “After checking [Laurence’s information] in our system, the officer discovered that the passenger had typed a made-up address in the Philippines, had not included his full name, and had inserted vulgar words into his voice.”
He added that immigration officers had been advised to exercise maximum tolerance, but the foreign national had “overstepped his bounds”.
“Such behavior is not only disrespectful but also undermines the efficiency of the system,” the commissioner said.
“Our agency is committed to ensuring a seamless experience for the traveling public. We expect all individuals to behave respectfully and adhere to established procedures. Any violation of these procedures will be dealt with firmly,” she added.
But Laurence disputes this account, telling CNN that he didn’t throw anything or raise his voice during the incident.
He said he asked immigration officers for help but was turned away because he couldn’t get the travel form on his phone to work properly.
He said he made three failed attempts to fill out the form, then became frustrated and entered incorrect information in an attempt to “quickly get through immigration checks” for his connecting flight to Cebu – and that in this attempt the application it went well.
He did not respond to CNN’s questions about what he wrote on the form and whether it contained profanity.
But he said: “I immediately apologized and the immigration officer wasn’t interested.”
“I also hand-wrote an apology to the immigration officer, which he also wasn’t interested in,” Laurence added.
Laurence said Philippine authorities overreacted and accused them of depriving him of due process, adding that he was not provided with any official documents informing him of the ban.
“In fact, I learned much of the government’s position from the articles they published about me and not directly from them,” he said, referring to media reports about the meeting.
He did not reveal whether he planned to return to the Philippines, saying only that he will now have to shed his real estate investments there.
According to the immigration office, in 2023 it excluded and blacklisted 44 foreign citizens deemed “disrespectful”.