Malacañang on Tuesday blamed Bureau of Immigration (BI) officials for its supposed inaction to hire additional Immigration officers as approved by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
In a news conference, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said current Immigration employees have to work overtime because the bureau is “not acting” on the proposal of the DBM to create additional positions.
“The burden of response is now upon the BI officials, they have not accepted it. They choose to stick to their guns about overtime pay,” Abella told reporters.
“But if they [BI] responded, then the queues would really lessen if there were more officials, if there were more officers there in the Immigration [bureau],” he said.
Last January 5, the DBM, the Department of Justice and the BI agreed to create additional positions to address the bureau’s concerns regarding the salaries of confidential agents and job orders as well as overtime pay to its personnel.
Since President Rodrigo Duterte barred in January the BI from using the funds collected from airport express lanes for overtime pay, some immigration officer have left their jobs.
This has resulted in the long lines of domestic and foreign travelers at the international airport in Manila.
Abella said the creation of new positions would increase the Immigration officer and immigration assistant positions by 74 percent, augmenting the existing 1,203 bureau personnel.
He, however, added that the BI is yet to act on the proposal.
“Well, at this stage, according to the explanation of [DBM] Secretary [Benjamin] Diokno… they have made a proposal and they’re waiting for the BI to make the proper response. It’s as simple as that. In a sense, it’s almost a household accounting job,” Abella said.
The Palace official added that the government is doing its best to serve the convenience of the commuting public especially since an exodus of travelers is expected during Holy Week.
“So if people would be willing to stand aside and step aside, and you know make some accommodations, then one would think that this would be a better thing to do,” Abella said.
He noted that they are open to designate military men in the airport as a “compromise.”
“You know, if it’s an emergency situation, then we should be able to respond in the right way,” Abella said.
CATHERINE S. VALENTE