BUREAU of Immigration (BI) collections fell by 39% in the first half from a year earlier due to travel restrictions amid a global coronavirus pandemic.

Collections in the six months through June reached P3.14 billion, Immigration Commissioner Jaime H. Morente said in a statement at the weekend.

“We still consider this as a significant accomplishment considering that even amidst the pandemic we were just 50% short of attaining our target of P6.18 billion for 2020,” he said.

Foreign and local traveler arrivals dropped by 95% during the period, he added.

Mr. Morente said the bureau would probably still meet its income target as lockdowns are relaxed.

“We are seeing a resurgence in the number of people transacting in our offices and as the economy slowly reopens and travel restrictions are eased, we anticipate a steady rise in our revenues in the next few months,” he said.

Judith F. Ferrara, Financial Management Division chief, said the bureau was poised to post record collections this year before the pandemic.

Collections in the first two months reached almost P1.8 billion but these dropped to P481 million in March when Luzon was locked down to contain the pandemic.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte kept Metro Manila under a general community quarantine until the end of the month, along with the provinces of Bulacan and Batangas and the cities of Tacloban and Bacolod.

Iligan City is still under a modified enhanced community quarantine, while the rest of the country will be under a more relaxed modified general quarantine. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas