Malacañang has once again resorted to allowing the use of Bureau of Immigration (BI) express lane fees and charges to augment the salaries of immigration personnel in the absence of an enabling law increasing the base pay rates of the employees.
In signing Memorandum Order (MO) 39, Executive Secretary Salvador S. Medialdea said “there is a need for an interim measure to augment the salaries of BI employees” since Congress has yet to pass an Immigration Modernization law to upgrade the current compensation system of BI.
The latest memorandum shall be effective from January to December 2019, or until the passage of an Immigration Modernization law, a law which would increase the base pay rates of BI personnel, whichever comes first.
The previous directive through MO 24 (Series of 2018), which also allowed the use of BI express lane fees and charges to augment the salaries of BI personnel has already expired in December 2018. It was also issued back then since Congress has yet to pass the enabling law.
“The guidelines for the augmentation pay of BI personnel under Section 1 of the MO 24 are hereby adopted as guidelines for BI Special Provision 1, ‘Immigration Fees and Collections,’ under the FY 2019 General Appropriations Act,” read MO 39 dated September 27, a copy of which was only released on Tuesday.
According to MO 24, the Philippine Immigration Act has not been updated since its passage in 1940, and the “basic monthly pay of BI employees has remained extremely low in spite of the nature of their work, thereby leading to a large number of resignations and causing prejudice to the efficient delivery of frontline services.”
Moreover, the previous order also provides that express lane fees and charges collected by the BI shall be deposited in a Special Trust Fund Account with a government bank, which shall be used exclusively for the following purposes:
a) 64 percent shall be used to augment the salaries of BI’s organic personnel who rendered service beyond office hours
b) 25 percent shall be used to pay for the salaries of contractual personnel; and
c) The remaining 11 percent shall be remitted to the National Treasury as income of the General Fund.
Express lane fees and charges collected by BI in excess of the total augmentation pay requirements in accordance with these rules and the contractual salary requirements for the year shall be remitted to the National Treasury, as income of the General Fund.