The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has reverted to its old work schedule after President Duterte approved the return of the express lane fund to cover overtime pay for staff.
Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente has instructed the BI main office and all its satellite and field offices to observe the new office schedule of 7am to 5.30pm. The new hours took effect yesterday (Wednesday, December 3).
In a statement, he said that the adjustment in work schedule was their answer to the president’s directive to revive the express lane fund from which the overtime pay of BI workers would be sourced.
In a speech during the agency’s flag-raising ceremony, the commissioner again extended his gratitude to the president for restoring the overtime pay of BI personnel.
“Let us reciprocate with dedicated and sincere service the trust that the president bestowed on the BI,” he said.
The bureau will now resume charging express lane fees, the proceeds of which will be used for the salaries and overtime pay of BI employees.
In creating the trust fund, the president said he recognises the hard work and sacrifices made by BI employees whose primary duty is to guard the ports of entry and regulate the entry and stay of foreigners in the country.
Mr Morente also thanked Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II and his deputies for supporting the bureau’s efforts to persuade the palace to reinstate their overtime pay.
He likewise acknowledged the efforts of BI Associate Commissioners J Tobias Javier and Aimee Torrefranca-Neri and the officers of the employees’ union Buklod and Immigration Officers Association of the Philippines, who lobbied hard for the restoration of the express lane fund.
The pay-boosting scheme was originally implemented in 1988. When the late senator Miriam Defensor Santiago was BI commissioner, she introduced the express lane service at the NAIA, with the profits used to cover overtime and bonuses.
Because of this scheme, low salary grade workers — who can earn as little as 6,000 pesos per month as basic pay — received decent wages until the president scrapped the express lane fund in his 2017 national budget.
Speaking in December 2016, he said: “Without a separate substantive law as legal basis, the collected fees from the express lane charges should now be deposited as income to the General Fund.”