PH Immigration to impose one-strike policy vs corruption

Robie de Guzman   •   November 5, 2020   •   808

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Thursday said it will implement a one-strike policy against its erring personnel as part of its efforts to fight corruption.

Under the one-strike policy, erring personnel who are the subject of complaints and investigations will be relieved from their posts immediately, the BI said.

The measure comes after several Immigration officials were subjected to investigation over their alleged involvement in the “pastillas” bribery scheme which allegedly takes advantage of Chinese nationals who wish to be escorted to dodge the immigration screening process for a fee.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said he has ordered the BI’s newly-reconstituted Board of Discipline (BOD) to “carefully assess complaints and reports against erring personnel” and to “immediately recommend to the Department of Justice (DOJ) the filing of administrative case” if they find merit.

The BI said that since 2016, one hundred thirty-one (131) personnel have been suspended, dismissed, and dropped from the rolls for various offenses.

“We do not tolerate corruption amongst our ranks,” Morente said.

“In support of the President’s intensified drive against corruption, we have beefed up our Board of Discipline (BOD) to focus on cleaning up the Bureau,” he added.

The BOD is currently headed by lawyer Ronaldo Ledesma, who previously served as the Bureau’s OIC Commissioner and OIC Deputy Commissioner. Five additional lawyers have also been assigned by the DOJ to the BOD.

The BI chief earlier lamented the bureau’s lack of disciplinary powers over its own employees, noting that its set up under the current immigration law is merely recommendatory to the DOJ.

“If administrative control was to be given to the BI, if we find someone involved in improper activities in the morning, we can immediately implement a suspension in the afternoon,” he said.

Morente also urged the public to report any illegal activities to the BI’s hotline +632 86452400 or via its Facebook page.

Immigration bureau bars NAIA personnel from going on leave until Jan. 31

Robie de Guzman   •   January 20, 2022

Bureau of Immigration (BI) personnel at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) have been barred from taking vacation leaves until the end of January to maximize its manpower at the premiere port, an official from the agency said.

In a statement, Atty. Carlos Capulong, BI Port Operations Division (POD) Chief, said a directive has been issued extending up to January 31 the period within which immigration personnel at the NAIA are banned from going on leaves.

The said ban, which started last December 16 before the 2021 holiday break, was supposed to lapse last January 15.

Capulong said the ban on filing vacation leaves has been extended for two more weeks as the number of BI officers at the airport infected with COVID-19 has soared in the past few days.

He stressed the directive was necessary to ensure unhampered airport operations amid increasing number of immigration personnel who tested positive for the virus or are in quarantine.

“No application for leave during this period will be entertained or approved, and all filed leaves are hereby cancelled to ensure that we have enough personnel to service the traveling public,” Capulong said.

The BI said that as of Monday, January 17, a total of 138 BI-POD personnel have tested positive for the virus. An additional 129 employees remain on quarantine while waiting for the results of their swab tests.

On the other hand, 99 other personnel tested negative and have already returned to work.

Last week, BI Commissioner Jaime Morente issued an advisory downgrading its office operations to 30% worksite capacity due to the spike in COVID-19 infections in its offices.

 

PH Immigration offices lowers worksite capacity to 30% amid spike in COVID cases

Robie de Guzman   •   January 13, 2022

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has announced it will be downgrading its onsite workforce to at least 30% starting January 13.

In an advisory, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said the reduced workforce will be implemented until January 22 in response to the spike in COVID-19 infections plaguing BI offices.

The bureau earlier reported 251 active cases among its personnel. Of the said number, 135 are assigned at the airport, 91 at the BI’s office in Intramuros, while 25 were from other BI offices.

A total of 269 of BI airport personnel are also under quarantin and awaiting results of their COVID-19 testing.

Morente said he sought Department of Justice Secretary Guevarra’s approval to lower the number of onsite employees in compliance with directives from the Palace.

“We thank Secretary Menardo Guevarra for considering our plight and approving our request to temporarily downgrade our workforce amidst this surge,” said Morente.

“The high number of BI personnel getting sick with COVID-19 is really affecting our operations,” he added.

The BI said all its offices shall continue to be open during weekdays, from 7:00 am to 5:30 pm, despite the reduced workforce.

Employees working offsite are reminded to observe the guidelines for applicable alternative work arrangements as set by the Civil Service Commission.

“We hope that the public bears with us as we reduce our manpower during this surge,” said Morente.

“Our frontliners are getting sick, but we will make sure that the delivery of our services remain unhampered,” he added.

The advisory also stated that fully vaccinated clients are exempted from the Bureau’s Online Appointment System, upon presentation of their vaccination card or certification. Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated clients are advised to continue securing their appointment online via http://e-services.immigration.gov.ph/.

Registered aliens reporting for the Annual Report 2022 are required to secure an appointment online.

BI tells holiday outbound travelers: Be at airport early to avoid crowding

Robie de Guzman   •   December 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has reminded passengers going abroad during the holidays to be at the airport early to avoid crowding amid an increasing number of departing travelers at local airports.

In a statement, BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said arriving earlier than the scheduled flight will allow passengers ample time to check in at their airlines and ensure social distancing at the immigration area.

Morente said that in the past few days they have observed a steady increase in the number of international travelers departing from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), and the airports in Mactan, Cebu, and Clark, Pampanga with the onset of the holiday season.

“While there are significantly fewer travelers this year because of the pandemic, there could still be congestion for late passengers rushing during boarding time,” said Morente.

“We can help avoid congestion during boarding by checking in early,” he added.

Local airlines also suggest that travelers start the check-in process 3 to 4 hours prior to their scheduled flight.

Morente said that due to the pandemic, airlines would need to conduct additional checks to ensure compliance with travel restrictions of different countries of destination.

The Immigration chief also advised departing passengers to make sure that they possess complete travel documents, as well as the added travel requirements by different countries due to the pandemic.

He also added that BI officers have been instructed to be more vigilant in screening passengers as human traffickers and illegal recruiters could take advantage of the holiday rush to spirit their victims out of the country.

“Our immigration officers are always on the lookout for suspected human trafficking and illegal recruitment victims,” said Morente.

“Despite the holiday rush, we will ensure that our kababayans are protected from these predators, and we will turn over any victims to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking for filing of cases against their recruiters,” he added.

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