171 more BI personnel to man airports during Holy Week
MANILA — The Bureau of Immigration will be assigning more personnel to the country’s airports to address the manpower shortage and queues due to the mass leaves and resignations of immigration officers.
BI commissioner Jaime Morente issued the directive on Monday during a management meeting of the agency’s officials.
“He ordered the additional deployment of 171 immigration personnel during the Holy Week. If there is still a need to continue, it might extend,” said BI spokesperson Antonette Mangrobang.
The contingency plan will take effect on April 9, Palm Sunday and throughout the Holy Week in anticipation of the high volume of passenger traffic in airports.
It was a measure to temporarily address the mass leaves and resignations of immigration personnel at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, stemming from the non-payment of overtime pay.
Earlier, justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre said 32 immigration officers have resigned while 50 more were poised to go on a six-month leave of absence to look for new jobs.
More than 3,000 of its personnel have been on leave as of February 17 following the suspension of payment of their overtime pay as immigration officers in airport counters.
Mangrobang said the deployment of 171 immigration officers would initially cover the Holy Week, although this might be extended depending on the situation.
Of this figure, 150 will be assigned to the NAIA while the rest will man other international airports in Cebu, Davao and Iloilo.
The 171 immigration officers will be composed of division, section and unit chiefs, immigration officers at the BI main office in Intramuros and subports, and other immigration personnel.
“I myself will be rendering counter duty at the airport on Maundy Thursday,” Mangrobang added.
Although the NAIA is the only one affected by leaves and resignations of immigration personnel, the BI is preparing for an increase in passenger traffic in other international airports as well.
All available personnel such as administrative staff and supervisors were ordered to render counter duty apart from their regular tasks as part of the BI’s manpower augmentation measures.
“These are immigration officers, intelligence officers so they are also very familiar with the operations at the airport,” Mangrobang said.
She added that the Immigration Officers Association of the Philippines has reiterated its appeal to its officers to report for duty.
She assured them that the BI has been doing all possible measures to alleviate the long queues at immigration counters at the NAIA due to the shortage of available personnel.
BI records showed that the agency has more than 2,000 employees in its roster. The BI needs 2,300 more to meet its ideal number of more than 4,000 employees.
“What is important is that our immigration counters will no longer be left vacant,” she said. SFM/rga
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