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Our predicament began early 2006. We were at the immigration counter of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) when the officer asked me if I was a battered wife. Imagine my shock! I said "NO." Of course, not! My husband wouldn't even hurt a fly. He's just into swatting mosquitoes which he hates so much for biting our little boy.
The immigration officer then informed us that my husband's name was kind of popular in the criminal record books. He had two namesakes, both of which were defendants in their respective court cases. One had a pending case of wife battery and the other, estafa. At least, nobody killed anyone.
Luckily, the immigration officer let us through with a smile. He said that both suspects were in their 50s, anyway. So surely, they couldn't have been my husband.
It was different, though, six months later. We were departing for Hong Kong that time. The immigration officer put a stamp on my husband's passport and warned us that it would be the last time he would get through immigration without a "Not The Same Person" (NTSP) certificate.
What the heck was that? I was as clueless as most of you five years ago. This article aims to guide people who had or will be having the same problem.
My husband used to be proud of his name. He always boasted about having the same name as a basketball player in the '80s and let's not forget the glue which had been a popular fixture inside school classrooms since time immemorial. But he now had to pay the price for carrying the 2nd most popular Filipino surname and a first name, which obviously, a lot of parents found endearing.
Hence, our annual trip to the Bureau of Immigration began. This is the same unit in charge of processing clearance for aliens (foreigners) residing in the country. Their office is along Magallanes Drive in Intramuros, Manila. Just a few meters away from the Manila Cathedral.
Parking is available outside the establishment for a fixed rate of Php40. The good news, there's a Starbucks right across the street. The bad news, the list of requirements:
1. National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Clearance. Must be original copy and must be within one year validity if the court case of your namesake is OUTSIDE Metro Manila. You should get a Court Clearance which must be signed and sealed if the court case of your namesake is WITHIN Metro Manila. Either of this is only necessary for first-time applicants. If you had previously applied, you can just bring the original copy of your old NTSP certificate.
2. Affidavit of Denial. You can get this from a notary public. If you failed to do so in advance, there are several notaries public along Muralla Street. It's right across the Bureau of Immigration. Don't make the mistake of asking fixers or even parking lot attendants to bring you there, for they get an automatic commission per referral. Instead of paying Php150, you will be charged Php300.
Totally absurd! You pay double just because a fixer pointed you in their direction. But that's the way they do business. So, just try not to dilly dally and complete your requirements before going there.
3. Photocopy of Passport. All the pages with data and all pages with travel stamps.
4. 1x1 or 2x2 Picture. Photo must be with white background.
5. Express Fee. You will pay Php500 for the processing.
Several years ago, the entire application process took around three hours. Just recently, we finished everything in 30 minutes. Kudos to you, Sir PNOY!
The actual certificate will be released after one business day. You can send a representative to get it for you, as long as he/she brings your claim stub. Note that the NTSP certificate is only a requirement for overseas travel. If you're just flying locally, no need to apply for one. And sorry folks, but this certificate is only valid for one year. One way or another, we will surely bump into each other annually.
My husband used to complain about all this unnecessary hassle until he saw a nun, who was patiently going through the same process. Which... made me question this whole NTSP certificate thing. Why submit an Affidavit of Denial, denying the same thing, every year? Why should a person undergo this annual process if he had already cleared his name the previous year, unless another namesake with a criminal record emerges? Maybe the Php500 express fee can give us some answers?
So for parents who are reading this, the next time you think about the name to give your new baby, you may want to consider checking the criminal record books first especially if you have a common surname. You never know. You just might be subjecting your child to this frustrating process year after year.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of HerWord or BusinessWorld.
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