BI set to deploy 200 new staff to reduce queues at airports
Following the Department of Budget and Management’s pledge to release funds to hire more personnel at Ninoy Aquino International Airport, the Bureau of Immigration on Wednesday said it was ready to deploy some 200 staff in the next four months to reduce queues at the country’s airports.
BI-Airport Operations Division chief Marc Red Marinas said the 200 new personnel will be deployed in batches to augment the existing 740 staff working in three-shifts at the departure and arrival counters in NAIA’s four terminals.
Marinas said the newly-hired would be deployed in batches as they had to undergo training first. Forty will be deployed by Friday and another 60 on Monday. The remaining 100 will be deployed by September.
“We are targeting around 1,000 personnel, but as of now we have around 867 applicants undergoing screening process, interviews and examination. Those who passed will undergo training before they will be dispatched and hopefully by the end of the year, all of them will be deployed in different international airports in the country especially at NAIA,” he told reporters.
For the meantime, he said, the BI will be deploying 123 BI existing personnel at the NAIA terminals this June and July , and 50 each in at Kalibo at Cebu-Mactan airports, and 25 each at Clark and Davao airports while awaiting for new hires.
Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno announced in a radio interview on Wednesday that aside from the hiring of 1,000 new BI personnel, the government has already approved salary upgrades for immigration personnel.
“We are grateful for Secretary Diokno’s concern for our people, but we are still waiting for the Congress to amend the new Immigration Act which Malacañang certified as ‘urgent,” Marinas said, adding that the proposed law, once passed, would ensure salary adjustments.
The long lines of passengers started in January this year when the budget department halted the airport-based immigration employees’ overtime services.
Many affected BI staff, their take-home pays slashed, went on leave and eventually quit.
BI counters staff perform computer and manual tasks as they scrutinize passengers’ ports, read codes, profile passport holders and scrutinize the documents they present. Marinas said the counter personnel’s is “crucial” in ensuring that suspected terrorists, fugitives, and other undesirable aliens will not be able to enter the country.
Marinas said that at NAIA, personnel from BI’s travel control and enforcement unit are also manning the vacant counters during peak hours.
According to BI and NAIA insiders, each of the four terminals has their own peak hours. At Terminal 1, the peak hours are mostly in the afternoon, when up to six flights from the Middle East arrive in a span of 30 to 45 minutes, with some of them immediately departing the airport for their return flights.
At Terminal 2, it was observed that the immigration areas are too small to accommodate three to four simultaneously arriving and departing flights.
At Terminal 3, the immigration area is big enough to accommodate passengers from various airlines but there are few attending immigration officers.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.