(An Act Modernizing the Bureau of Immigration By Defining Its Powers and Functions, Further Professionalizing Its Organization, Upgrading the Compensation and Benefits of its Officials and Employees, and Appropriating Funds Therefor)
By Rep. Edcel C. Lagman
The law on the Bureau of Immigration is of Jurassic vintage. It was enacted during the Commonwealth Period under Commonwealth Act No. 613, otherwise known as the “Philippine Immigration Act of 1940” or 83 years ago.
Mr. Speaker, there is urgent need to modernize the Bureau of Immigration to make it comparable with similar agencies in other countries and place it in step with the advances in communications and technology.
It is also of critical immediacy to professionalize personnel of the Bureau of Immigration and increase their basic salaries to incentivize immigration officers and other employees of the Bureau who perform frontline services in various airports and seaports nationwide even during weekends and holidays.
The bills on the modernization of the Bureau of Immigration and the upgrading of its personnel have been pending in the Congress for many years now.
The importance of the Bureau of Immigration cannot be overemphasized. Its offices and personnel give the first glimpse of the country to tourist and foreign arrivals. It does not only protect the security and safety of the country from undesirable aliens and those with derogatory records. It is also one of the principal agencies responsible in the implementation of RA No. 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003.
It is also in charge of the citizens’ right to travel under the Constitution.
It is an enduring partner of the Department of Tourism in the country’s continuing campaign for more tourist arrivals which have been significantly increasing in numbers.
It is a revenue-generating agency. In 2023, its projected income is P7.021 billion, way above its current appropriation of P1,614,583,000.
I vote yes to House Bill No. 8203 or the “Bureau of Immigration Modernization Act”. Since the 14th Congress, I have consistently authored or co-authored similar bills on the modernization of the Bureau of Immigration.
Consequently, I respectfully manifest to be included as co-author of House Bill No. 8203.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.