Despite the controversies that persistently haunted it, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said it has significantly improved its services under the watch of President Duterte.
BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said It was a very challenging six years of Duterte administration as the bureau faced numerous challenges including scandals, and adversities.
“However, we soldiered on because we remained steadfast in our aim to improve the BI,” he added.
Morente said that despite being rocked by these scandals, they have moved forward, and continued implementing changes that would bring about a better bureau.
As a corruption deterrent at the airports, Morente said they have implemented both short- and medium-term solutions to eliminate irregularities by implementing continual reshuffle of all personnel assigned at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). Airport operations were also reorganized by assigning vital units to serve as a layer of auditing and checks and balances for airport personnel.
Morente likewise pushed for the long-term solution of updating the Philippine Immigration Act, which would answer salary woes, remove systemic issues, plug loopholes in policies, update fines and penalties, ensure proper division of power, and confer to the Commissioner proper disciplinary powers, which he sees as the strongest deterrent against corruption.
Morente also highlighted other key projects of the bureau over the past six years.
The Philippines has been awarded the Tier 1 status by the US State Department Trafficking in Persons Report for six years straight. As a member of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking, the BI continuously fought against human trafficking and illegal recruitment.
The Philippines is the first in the ASEAN region to receive such rating, and is one of four in Asia.
Morente added that they also aimed to modernize systems of the BI through the creation of the information systems strategic plan, installing high-definition closed circuit televisions (CCTVs), linking systems to other agencies such as the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and the INTERPOL, setting up the BI appointment system, and the implementation of the e-gates which are unmanned counters that allowed faster processing for arriving Filipinos.
“I hope that in the coming years, the BI will continue its path towards improvement, as it moves toward its vision of providing the most excellent, efficient, effective, and innovative public service,” Morente said.