THE Bureau of Immigration (BI) is set to implement starting next month nationwide quarterly rotations of its personnel, a move that many feared would result in massive dislocation of employees or worse, possible paralysis of immigration operations.
Highly placed Immigration sources told The Manila Times on Tuesday that the planned rotation, particularly of those assigned to international airports, was hatched by Immigration Commissioner Siegfred Mison and close associates early this year to “accommodate” favored employees by giving them juicy positions.
“It is not for the exigency of the service but rather for the exigency of the chosen few who are close to the [Immigration bureau’s] seat of power,” the sources said.
Strongly opposing Mison’s move, among others, is the Immigration Officers Association of the Philippines (IOAP), which said the plan lacked legal basis and failed to consult official and employees as mandated by law.
In a three-page letter to Mison, dated April 17, the association reiterated its earlier appeal to stop the quarterly rotations.
It said 17 days after its letter-appeal was received by the Office of the Commissioner, the IOAP is yet to receive a reply even as reports are afloat that the implementation will be effected starting May 1.
The council pointed out that while individual, isolated and case-to-case reassignments may be allowed subject to certain restrictions, “wholesale and [serial]rotations or reassignments have no legal basis.”
It cited Memorandum Circular 2 of the Civil Service Commission that strongly discourages “reassignment that will cause significant financial dislocation or will cause difficulty or hardship on the part of the employee because of geographical location” and “reassignment that is done indiscriminately or whimsically because the law is not intended as a convenient shield for the appointing/disciplining authority to harass or oppress a subordinate in the pretext of advancing and promoting public interest.”
Before Mison could implement massive rotations as a policy, according to the IOAP, it is necessary that he should first secure approval of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima who, by operations of law, supervises the Immigration bureau.
The council said the rotation scheme is a violation of the constitutional mandate that all workers shall have the right to “participate in policy and decision-making process affecting their rights and benefits as may be provided by law,” as embodied in Article XIII, Section 3 of the 1987 Constitution.
“The sporadic ‘meetings’ conducted by the Honorable Commissioner were held to justify and enforce the rotation scheme, not to hear and consult the affected immigration officers. The analogy used by the Honorable Commissioner that a soldier is not worth his salt if he is not assigned to Mindanao appears to be off-tangent in a government agency of civilian personnel,” it added.
In the same letter-appeal, the IOAP raised the issue of “fairness,” which, it said, “will adversely affect performance and efficiency of those who may be discriminated [against].”
“The proffered reason that the rotation scheme is a developmental policy to expose immigration officers to different international airports throughout the country in order to enhance their experience because BI represents the entire Philippines, not only NAIA [Ninoy Aquino International Airport], does not hold water because the rules and regulations on departure and arrival protocols are the same in all international airports in the Philippines,” it said.
The rotation plan has also drawn opposition from immigration officers assigned to Iloilo, Kalibo and Mactan-Cebu International Airports, among others.