Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente has sought additional powers to whip erring bureau personnel following the decision of the Department of Justice to sack eight job order workers implicated in the extortion of more than P9.2 million from 15 South Korean nationals.
“(Having) disciplinary powers against erring personnel will enable the bureau to take more swift action when needed,” Morente said.
“Our actions on previous incidents of alleged corruption show that we will not hesitate to weed out corrupt employees. The President’s directive is clear. Corruption has no place in BI. Not on my watch,” he added.
The Korean nationals, who were arrested in Angeles City, Pampanga on March 6, filed a complaint before the Office of the President and the DOJ against 18 BI intelligence officers, including the job order workers, for apprehending them despite having proper documents.
The erring BI personnel allegedly forced the Korean nationals to shell out various amounts of money under threat of detention.
Aside from the relief of the eight job order personnel, the 10 other officers have likewise been placed under preventive suspension.
Meanwhile, the bureau was placed on heightened alert after receiving a report that human trafficking syndicates are looking to take advantage of the Holy Week holiday to send their victims abroad.
All of the bureau’s airport terminal heads and supervisors were ordered to immediately implement strict immigration assessment following the intelligence report.
“We have received intelligence reports that human traffickers and illegal recruiters will be sending many of their victims to travel abroad this week. They are mistaken if they think we will lower our guard during the peak season,” Morente said.
He said the Travel Control and Enforcement Unit was tasked to conduct a secondary inspection on departing Filipinos with “doubtful purpose of travel.”
“Most of the time, trafficking victims are instructed by their recruiters to disguise themselves as tourists to attempt to leave the country,” he said.
Immigration officers manning the airports were also directed to be “doubly strict in clearing foreigners to make sure that their visas and other travel documents are valid and genuine,” after a number of foreigners were caught presenting bogus passports and visas.