DEPARTMENT of Budget and Management Secretary Benjamin Diokno has approved the hiring 1,000 additional personnel for the Bureau of Immigration to ensure continuing operations and address its lack of manpower.
Diokno, in a radio interview Wednesday, said he approved the hiring of personnel because the BI is in need of additional manpower. He noted that at least 1,000 applicants are needed to be trained as Immigration Officer 1, which had a salary grade 11 – a gross pay of P19,000.
The BI started to lose people to a number of resignations and retirements early this year following the refusal of the DBM to pay overtime work and the low salary of personnel.
Meanwhile, Marc Red Marinas, BI Port Operations chief, said the government is willing to upgrade the Immigration Officer 1 pay from salary grade 11 to salary grade 16, which would add to the gross pay an estimated amount ranging from P10,000 to 12,000. He added that the salary upgrade would surely attract possible applicants.
Marinas also revealed that some 40 newly hired personnel who started attending immigration basic crash course last Tuesday will be deployed by first week of July at the NAIA. He said another 60 will soon start their training next week and “hopefully these people will be formally deployed at the end of July.”
Furthermore, Marinas said the hiring of personnel will not only concentrate in Manila as there are also airports in Visayas and Mindanao. He even noted that the bureau held examinations and interviews in Davao and Cebu.
Currently there are 867 BI personnel holding positions at different airports nationwide, including the 628 officers at NAIA.
But Marinas said, the BI is still needs to dispatch 50 personnel each to the airports in Kalibo, Cebu-Mactan, Clark and Davao.
Furthermore, Marinas added, at least 123 BI personnel are in need to augment the immigration workforce at the NAIA as the influx of passengers at the airport has increased.
At the same time, Marinas stressed that before the overtime pay issue, the number of immigration officers has already dwindled and the workforce suddenly decreased in early months of 2017 as more than 40 officers quit their jobs.
Despite the government’s assurance that they will put a large amount of funds to the bureau, another problem the BI-NAIA is facing is the intermittent absences of immigration employees due to the failure of the DBM to address the low pay of immigration officer 1 and non payment of the overtime pay.
Nevertheless, Marinas expressed hope that much of the problems the BI face in connection with salary and overtime pay will be remedied as the process of upgrading the salary is ongoing in Congress.
“We have technical working group working closely with the Congress. We are hoping that within the year the Congress will pass the law, the new Immigration Act,” he said.
Since January, the BI operations at the NAIA was affected by the “mass leave” of hundreds of BI personnel in protest over the unpaid overtime pay which slashed their take home pay by more than half.
President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the suspension of overtime pay citing that the overtime pay of the BI employees at the airports are larger than their basic salary.