OFFICIALS and employees of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) thanked the Senate for conducting a hearing on a proposed new Philippine Immigration act and assuring its passage before the present Congress adjourns its final session in June.
“I join the rank and file workers of the BI in expressing our utmost gratitude and appreciation to the Senate Committee on Justice, chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon, for conducting the hearing last Wednesday on the proposed new Immigration act for the country,” Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said in a statement.
Morente stressed that the enactment of a new immigration act is already “very long overdue” as the BI continues to function and operate based on Commonwealth Act No. 613 which was passed 82 years ago.
“We are elated to hear that there is still hope in passing the new law,” said Morente.
Once approved by the Senate plenary, the bill will then be reconciled with a similar measure that was earlier passed by the House of Representatives at the Bicameral Conference Committee.
Morente said the BI is confident there is still ample time for both the Senate and the House to pass the new Immigration bill and have it signed into law by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
Among the issues that were extensively discussed in Wednesday’s hearing is a proposal to upgrade the salary scales and benefits of BI employees to make them at par with the pay received by workers of other government agencies performing critical and important functions.
Also discussed was the proposal to strengthen the authority of the BI commissioner to discipline erring employees to curb corruption in the bureau.
The hearing also focused on the various types of immigrant and non-immigrant visas that the BI may issue to foreigners who wish to acquire resident status in the country.
“A new Philippine Immigration Law proposed is a game changer that would enable the Bureau of Immigration to perform its duties and fulfill its mandate given the evolving immigration landscape,” said Morente.