• Lawmaker urges passage of new immigration law

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    A lawmaker has urged his colleagues at the House of Representatives to tackle pending measures seeking to update the country’s immigration law.

    Rep. Salvador Belaro Jr. of 1-Ang Edukasyon Party-list called on his fellow members of the House justice panel to “urgently tackle” five pending measures as soon as the House resumes its session.

    Among the bills is one seeking the establishment of a Commission on Immigration and another one aimed at amending the immigration law.

    The House session has been adjourned beginning March 18 and it will resume on May 2.

    “The stop gap measures for the current immigration personnel woes at the NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) are temporary in nature, but the long-overdue updating of the immigration legal infrastructure can address those overtime pay problems, which are symptomatic of or linked to the many ailments of the Bureau of Immigration and the immigration system,” Belaro said in a statement.

    Rep. Maximo Rodriguez Jr. of Cagayan de Oro’s second district had noted in House Bill (HB) 1697 that the House of Representatives has been trying to update the immigration law since the 14th Congress.

    “This cannot go on for long. The 17th Congress ought to pass a new immigration law and send it to President [Rodrigo] Duterte for either signing or lapsing into law,” Belaro said.

    HB 1697, which was originally introduced as HB 4148 during the 14th Congress, seeks to create the Commission on Immigration and to upgrade the compensation of its officials and employees.

    Rodriguez, author of the bill, said some of the provisions under Commonwealth Act No. 613 or the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940 “have ceased to be responsive to present day conditions and realities, and there are still many problematic areas and concerns that have not been adequately addressed.”

    The bill is pending with the House Committee on Justice along with other similar bills that were each principally authored by former House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Rep. Xavier Jesus Romualdo of Camiguin and Rep. Leopoldo Bataoil of Pangasinan.

    A proposed Philippine Immigration Act is also pending before the House justice panel. The measure was principally authored by Rep. Evelina Escudero of Sorsogon.

    Meanwhile, Belaro said that once the House Committee on Justice approves the consolidated bill, he would ask the President to certify it as urgent.

    “I also ask Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd to recommend the consolidated bill for certification as urgent, so it could be approved in time for implementation before the end of 2017 and allow the Justice department time to approve the implementing rules and regulations,” Belaro said.

    “We need to ascertain and solve the problems that have kept Congress from approving this legislation critical to our national security, mass transport system, and the administration of justice,” he added.

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