MANILA - Travelers can expect longer lines at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport as more and more immigration officers skip work amid the suspension of their overtime pay, the agency overseeing the country's main gateway said Tuesday.
"According po sa pamunuan ng Immigration sa airport, dumarami po ang hindi pumapasok kada araw... Ang average po ng absences nila ay umaabot na raw po ng 20 per day ngayon," Manila International Airport Authority general manager Ed Monreal told radio DZMM.
(According to the Immigration management at the airport, employees taking absences from work have increased. The daily average of absences has reached 20.)
Duterte in January barred the Bureau of Immigration from using express lane fees to compensate for the overtime hours rendered by Immigration officers, and pay the salary of contractual and job-order employees.
He directed BI to remit instead the fees to the national treasury as part of its income.
As a result, immigration officers have received nothing but their 'meager' basic salary for almost 3 months now, said ER Robin, president of the Immigration Officers Association of the Philippines (IOAP).
Robin said IOAP has written Duterte to insist that the use of express lane fees as overtime pay has legal basis under the Immigration Act, when it was initiated as an anti-graft measure in 1998 by the late former senator and Immigration chief Miriam Defensor-Santiago.
"Ang mga Immigration officer, ang kanilang mga salary grade, hindi pa naa-upgrade, matagal na. Mababa ang basic salary nila at wala silang ibang allowances at benefits na natatanggap," he added.
(The salary grade of Immigration officers have not bee upgraded for a long time. They have a low basic salary and do not receive other allowances and benefits.)
IOAP has also submitted a position paper to the Department of Budget and Management in a bid to bring back their overtime pay.
More than 2,000 Immigration personnel and non-regular employees are affected by Duterte's veto.