MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte has created a trust fund for Bureau of Immigration (BI) employees that will become the source of their overtime pay, an effort to prevent more immigration officers from resigning.
In his veto message to Congress for the 2018 General Appropriations Act, Duterte said he will allow the establishment of a trust fund from express lane fees and charges collected by the bureau for the payment of employee salaries and overtime work.
The president said this measure will be in effect “until the Congress has enacted a new Immigration Modernization Law in 2018, which will upgrade the compensation system in the Bureau of Immigration.”
“I take special note of the plight of our employees at the Bureau of Immigration, who constitute the first line of defense in securing our borders,” Duterte said.
The president noted that while the 2017 budget allowed for the creation of 936 positions in the BI and allocation of P224.83 million for the overtime pay of BI personnel, “their basic monthly pay, on which overtime rates are based, has remained extremely low in relation to the nature of work that they perform, thereby leading to a large number of resignations and causing prejudice to the efficient delivery of a front-line service.”
Duterte in January barred the BI from using express lane fees to compensate for overtime hours rendered by Immigration officers, and pay the salary of contractual and job-order employees.
This led to numerous resignations at the BI, resulting in long lines at immigration counters.
Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno had said it is illegal for workers to receive overtime fees that are double their regular pay. Immigration officers, he said, received overtime pay that is up to 5 times their regular wages.
The use of express lane fees to pay for overtime work was initiated as an anti-graft measure in 1998 by the late former senator and immigration chief Miriam Defensor-Santiago.