MANILA, Philippines — Visitors to
the Philippines may get smiles from airport immigration officials, but they
shouldn’t expect to hear “Merry Christmas.”
But that command is not an example
political correctness run amuck.
Immigration Bureau Chief Ronaldo
Ledesma says officers at passport counters are banned from offering Christmas
greetings because they may be misconstrued as soliciting gifts or cash.
It is a tradition in the
Philippines for children to offer Christmas wishes to solicit gifts from godparents
The practice has been hijacked by
corrupt officials who sometimes use it as code for extortion requests.
Ledesma said that a Christmas
greeting, even if sincere, may sound like asking for a tip. Instead, he said
officials should give a warm smile, and efficient service.
Ledesma’s bureau has been
criticized as a beehive of corruption, and he has promised to clean it up.