We believe Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is dead serious when he warns that he will personally arrest agents of Bureau of Immigration (BI) agents who continue harassing and extorting money from foreigners vacationing, studying and doing business in Davao City.
The good mayor issued the ultimatum following complaints from a number of Indian medical students that BI agents are harassing and asking money from them.
Unfortunately, it was not the first time such activities were heard of.
Duterte also asked the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) to investigate the case involving BI agents and submit a report immediately.
I believe Immigration Commissioner Siegfred Mison has likewise ordered a swift probe into these allegations.
I believe Mison is as dead serious as Duterte in his crackdown of erring immigration officers, the remnants of a rotten system that the BI chief has changed.
“I would personally handcuff them, and haul them into jail,” Mison was quoted as saying.
I have reason to believe the commissioner would actually do that, knowing that he has sacked over a hundred BI civilian agents, immigration officers (IOs) and ranking officials.
Among those Mison fired or demoted were even former members of the staff of the Office of the Commissioner.
“Bad guys out, good guys in” briefly describes Mison’s reform program at BI, which has created a new breed of immigration personnel while continuing to weed out the undesirables.
You see, while there are undesirable aliens to ship out, there remains some undesirable BI agents to boot out.
Reports reached Duterte that members of a group who claim to be immigration agents had been harassing a number of Indian students, asking for money to spare them “trouble with BI.”
If it is true that money was involved, then it’s clearly extortion, Duterte pointed out.
“I hope it stops. Lay off!” the Mayor said.
Duterte also urged the Bureau to exercise transparency, as well as courtesy, in dealing with foreigners, regardless of whether they are Indians, Chinese, Koreans, and Indonesians.
“If you want something out of the aliens, send somebody to advise them to go to your office. You have to do it the proper way: invite them to your office in open view (of everyone). Do not investigate nga kamo lang naa sa kwarto (when you are the only ones in the room),” he said.
Duterte means business and his wish would be granted, I believe.
Mison’s “BI CARES” program of professionalizing the BI ranks addresses how immigration officers can improve their skills in dealing with foreign nationals.
In fairness, the transformation of BI personnel has been evident recently at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) terminals.
Slowly but surely, a “new culture” has set in at the BI officers and BI counters at our international airports and seaports.
We expect Mison to shed light on the allegations. Corruption has no room in Davao City, which happens to be my native locale.
Davao City is indeed progressing and many investors are opening their businesses in the city.
Except for those who may be fugitives from justice, the aggrieved Indian students must have valid immigration documents, otherwise they would not come forward to complain.
We expect prompt action from Mison!