Remember how President Aquino, frustrated over what he said was poor performance and widespread graft and corrupt practices, resorted to censuring selected government agencies in his past State of the Nation Address (SONA)?
I’ve come to think that PNoy’s SONA outbursts actually have led to at least one positive result. Not long after PNoy’s 2013 SONA, one of the officials who were subjected to shaming in the speech resigned.
That was over a year ago when Commissioner Siegfred B. Mison assumed initially as officer-in-charge of the Bureau of Immigration (BI).
In PNoy’s SONA this year, there was no denunciation directed at BI nor any mention of some good things that have transpired at the BI.
Since Mison took command of the BI, he has quietly and relentlessly moved to effect changes at one of the bureaucracy’s hotbed for corruption, extortion and bribery.
Mison, a West Point graduate and lawyer, aimed to reinvigorate the BI in fulfilling its mandate of securing the country’s airports and seaports by strictly enforcing the immigration laws.
As a matter of fact, the BI has adapted a policy of “Bad Guys Out, Good Guys In.”
The BI leadership went on to purge its corrupt and inefficient employees, dismissing several key personnel for various offenses and terminated the contracts of a number of non-essential civilian agents who had been with the bureau for years.
The immigration head honcho sacked his own chief of staff and his spokesperson a few months back for incompetence, according to my spy inside the bureau.
At least 20 BI officials were yanked out of NAIA and seven other airports, and reassigned.
No, all is not well, at BI these days for those who resist change and transformation.
There are still those harassing and extorting foreigners while others cuddle undesirable aliens. Their days are numbered, according Mison.
To infuse new blood into the BI rank and file, the bureau has begun filling positions with new college graduates.
“For the first time in our history, political connections did not influence our bureau’s hiring and promotion system,” said Mison in one of his interviews.
The BI likewise has addressed the perennial problem of overcrowding and long queues at its counters at the international ports, particularly at NAIA, by putting more personnel on its front lines.
Red tape has been eliminated in alien documentations, where bureau offices need to observe timelines in the processing of applications for visa conversion/extension and ACR I-Card issuance/renewal designed to expedite other services.
The board of commissioners have also enforced the deportation and blacklisting of undesirable aliens, including fugitives from other countries.
Not a “quick-fix” and far from a “model agency,” BI is a work in progress, Mison humbly admitted.
Well, at least we know that there are still a few agencies left in this administration that really works and are not just great in lip service.