Where did the money go? DBM wants BI overtime pay audited

Aleta Nieva Nishimori, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 04 2017 10:26 AM | Updated as of Apr 04 2017 10:55 AM

MANILA – The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) will propose a personal and financial audit in the Bureau of Immigration in light of the ongoing mass leave of immigration officers protesting the nonpayment of their overtime salaries.

“I will request personal audit from the Civil Service Commission yun, and the financial audit from the Commission on Audit…how much was collected for the last 5 years, six years and where did the money go? Saan napunta? Give me a list of people who received the money,” said DBM Secretary Benjamin Diokno.

On Tuesday, DZMM reported that 19 immigration officers were on leave from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

“Nung 2016, ang ginamit nilang overtime was P784-M by which is 250 percent of their basic pay. Ang rule sa gobyerno, you can collect as much, not more than 50 percent of your basic pay for overtime,” Diokno said.

Duterte in January vetoed BI's use of express lane fees to pay for the overtime hours rendered by Immigration officers and the salary of contractual employees. He directed BI to remit the fees instead to the national treasury as part of its income.

Diokno again explained Duterte’s veto.

“Kasi number 1, illegal nga yun...walang bound...when I say 250 percent, hindi namin alam baka 500 percent for some, 100 percent for others..aggregate lang yun. Number 2, hindi siya transparent, opaque yung sistema. And it’s a source of corruption. Job order ka pero katakot-takot naman overtime pay mo,” he said.

The DBM chief said they wanted to replace the old practice in the BI.

“We want to replace the illegal, corrupt and opaque system with a system which is legal, clean and transparent,” he said.

He said Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre and BI Commissioner Jaime Morente met with him in January to address the problem in the bureau.

“In response to that, nag create kami ng 936 positions,” he said.

“Ayaw nila yun kasi ang gusto nila yung sistema na walang nakakaalam kung sino nakakakuha ng overtime.”

He also answered allegations that the DBM is withholding BI workers overtime pay.

“Hindi namin iniipit. Walang request. Ayaw nilang mag request,” he said.

The use of express lane fees as overtime pay was initiated as an anti-graft measure in 1998 by the late former senator and Immigration chief Miriam Defensor-Santiago.