Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Jaime Morente expressed his gratitude to President Rodrigo Duterte for calling the Congress during his fifth State of the Nation (SONA) to pass a law that would modernize the agency and replace the Philippines’ old Philippine Immigration Act of 1940.
“We are elated and gratified upon hearing the President exhorting our lawmakers to pass a new Philippine Immigration Law. That measure is already long overdue,” Morente said in a statement.
The BI chief noted that it had been a long time since a President asked the Congress to make a new Immigration law during his SONA.
“We have no recollection if any of his predecessors have publicly expressed their support for a new Immigration law during their SONAs. Only President Duterte has done that, and we in the Bureau are very grateful for his support,” Morente said.
Morente appealed to the House of Representatives to heed to Duterte’s call by prioritizing the pending bills intended to modernize and reorganize the Bureau of Immigration.
“We are hopeful that with the President’s support, our senators and congressmen would finally see the urgency to pass a new Immigration law for our country. This should have been done a long time ago,” he added.
BI employees’ union Buklod-CID and Immigration Officers Association of the Philippines, Inc. (IOAP) also welcomed the President’s SONA speech.
The union agreed that the current Immigration Act is no longer aligned with the present situation and should be replaced by a new one that would modernize BI. The new law would also equip the agency with stronger authority to prevent the entry of unwanted aliens and would attract more investors and foreign tourists in the country.
The Philippine Immigration Act is a 1940 law establishing a Bureau of Immigration of the Philippines and establishing the visa policy of the Philippines.
Buklod-CID and IOAP also appealed to Congress to upgrade the salary scales of Immigration employees to prevent corruption and professionalize the BI’s rank and file.
They added the current salary rates and take-home pay of BI employees are much lower than other frontline government agencies.