Taking “special note” of the plight of Immigration officers, who “constitute the first line of defense in securing our borders,” Duterte has allowed the creation of a “trust fund” for their overtime pay.
The outcome is that The Bureau of Immigration has returned to its 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. office schedule after President Rodrigo Duterte’s approval of the use of express lane charges for overtime pay.
BI said that all satellite and field offices have been ordered to observe the work schedule starting Wednesday, January 3. Without overtime pay, bureau employees could only be required to work eight hours a day.
Under the General Appropriations Act of 2018, the trust fund — which will be subject to guidelines of the Commission on Audit and secretaries of Justice and Budget — will exist until Congress has enacted a new Immigration Modernization Law that will upgrade BI’s compensation system.
In 2017, Duterte vetoed the use of express lane charges for overtime pay. The veto left the BI scrambling to find funding for salaries for “job order” contractual workers and for overtime pay for their officers. The bureau had been using the ELF for decades.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, Immigration commissioners, and heads of the BI labor groups—BUKLOD and Immigration Officers Association of the Philippines—lobbied for the restoration of the funds.