Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
PHOTO BY PRESIDENTIAL COMMUNICATIONS
MANILA – The Philippines’ Bureau of Immigration (BI) is suffering from a shortage of personnel due to the mass resignation and leaves of employees after President Rodrigo Duterte stopped the giving of overtime pay last December.
As a result, travelers at the country’s international airport have to fall in line for hours as there are only a few immigration counters that are open to serve them.
The BI is assigning additional personnel to the airports to deal with the manpower problem.
Duterte barred the BI from using funds collected from express lanes at airport for overtime pay, prompting the resignation of 32 immigration officers.
Fifty immigration personnel have filed notices that they would go on leave for six months in preparation for their resignation and look for other jobs while more than 3,000 employees have gone on leave since February 17.
The bureau collects 3 billion pesos yearly from express lanes at the country’s international airports, out of which the budget department would allocate 200 million pesos for overtime work of immigration personnel. Each employee would get 5,000 pesos as overtime compensation.
Red Mariñas, chief of the BI port operations division, said money problems were behind the resignations and leaves of absence by bureau personnel.
The overtime pay is a big help to immigration employees since they only get a maximum salary of 14,000 pesos monthly, it was learned.
More than 60 percent of immigration personnel are not from Manila and they send money to their families in the provinces, leaving the employees a measly amount for food and lodging, according to Mariñas.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre said he hopes that Duterte will rescind his order stopping overtime pay for BI personnel “because the economy will be affected by this.”
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, for his part, said the staff shortage poses security risk. “Our national security will be in danger because nobody is guarding the exit and entry (points) in our ports,” he said.
Meanwhile, domestic and foreign travelers have been told to be at the airport at least five hours before their scheduled departure because of long lines at immigration counters. GAC/Expat Media
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