MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Jinggoy Estrada is urging the Senate to investigate the policy of discontinuing the overtime (OT) pay of immigration, Customs and quarantine personnel assigned to international airports.
In a press statement, Estrada said he has filed Senate Resolution 862 urging the Upper Chamber to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation on the termination of the charging and collection of overtime pay of customs, immigration and quarantine employees against airline companies.
The measure is co-authored by Sen. Panfilo Lacson and Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
"The policy disregards relevant provisions of the Philippine Immigration Act, Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines, Quarantine Act of 2004 and Executive Order 292, as well as a Supreme Court decision," Sen. Estrada said in the resolution.
He added: "It is important that fair and just employment compensation be carried out, with full observance of what is lawful and due our workers.”
Under the Philippine Immigration Act, immigration employees may be assigned by the Commissioner to do overtime work at rates fixed by him when the service rendered is to be paid for by the shipping companies and airlines or other persons served.
However, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima wrote a memorandum to President Aquino last July 31, 2012 recommending the discontinuance of charging overtime pay by customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) employees against airline companies.
He said the practice hurts the tourism industry.
In a separate letter, then Transportation and Communications Secretary Mar Roxas advised the Board of Airline Representatives (BAR) and Airline Operators Council (AOC) to stop paying overtime pay to said government employees. The Cabinet Economic Cluster adopted a policy of implementing 24/7 shifting schedule and that the government will fully finance the services rendered by the employees in international airports.
Bureau of Immigration employees balked at the policy, saying that the Aquino administration "unceremoniously blinks on social justice."
They said the overtime pay received by immigration officers has been paid by airline and shipping companies since the 1950s.
The employees also cited a Supreme Court ruling which "categorically precludes the government from shouldering the payment of overtime work, as in so doing the burden will be similarly shared by all taxpayers."