The undermanned Bureau of Immigration (BI) won a partial victory on Thursday after lawmakers gave in to their lobbying to retain its income from the Express Lane Fee (ELF) collections to pay the overtime of its employees instead of depositing this to the National Treasury,
Kabataan Party-list Rep. Terry Ridon, Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, Misamis Occidental Rep. Jorge Almonte, Misamis Oriental Rep. Henry Oaminal, and Northern Samar Rep. Emil Ong moved for the deletion of a special provision under the 2016 Php3.002 trillion General Appropriations Bill mandating the BI with 1,473 personnel to deposit the funds collected from ELF with the National Treasury.
Ridon noticed a number of BI personnel who attended thehearing of the House committee on Appropriations hearing of the Department of Justice’s (DoJ) proposed Php12.8 billion budget for next year to “lobby for the bureau’s cause.”
Through Ridon, BI Commissioner Siegfred Mison, who was accompanied by BI employees, asked the members of the House of Representatives to scrap such item.
“We are here to plea and request you to reconsider the insertion of a special provision directing the BI to deposit its ELF with the National Treasury,” Mison told the panel whose bureau is an attached-agency of DoJ.
“In Malaysia, the ratio of immigration officer to foreigners is one to 35; one to 77 in Indonesia; one to 17 in Singapore. Our current ratio now is one to 1,300. The ideal ratio is one is to 400,” he said. “You canapprove unilaterally such provision in the budget if we are at par with other neighbors in Asia.”
But sources said the victory could be considered half-baked should President Benigno Aquino III veto the matter in case the final version of the budget restores their request.(PNA)