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Gov’t urged to adopt 24/7 skeds for immigration, other workers at ports

By: - Reporter / @amyremoINQ
/ 01:57 PM March 18, 2014

MANILA, Philippines—The Joint Foreign Chambers has urged the national government to match the 24/7 operations of international airlines and shoulder the additional costs of doing so in line with the modernization of the country’s immigration services.

“As international traffic continues to grow, especially with the implementation of the liberal air access policy at secondary gateways, any shortage of personnel relative to the growth of passenger traffic should be addressed with an increase in the workforce at the expense of the national government,” JFC said in a statement issued Tuesday.

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Such a proposal has been put forward by the JFC to lawmakers who filed bills on an Immigration Act of 2014 in the House of Representatives.

In particular, the foreign business group is seeking the deletion of a provision in existing legislation that “authorizes the Commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration to assign immigration employees to do overtime work or services to be prescribed at rates fixed by the Commissioner of Immigration when the service rendered is to be paid for by the airline, shipping companies or other persons served.”

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The JFC said also that the Bureau of Immigration should be authorized “to allocate a percent share from its income generated to pay for 24/7 operations and to include any overtime payments in its annual budget.”

“Part of the modernization of immigration services is the ability of government to match the 24/7 operations of international airlines, our major partner in tourism development,” the JFC said. “The practice of charging overtime fees, meals, and transportation allowances to the international airlines that dates back to Commonwealth Act of 613 should now be removed and replaced with one where services provided by Bureau of Immigration personnel as employees of the government are duly compensated by the state from its budget. This will accord with best international practice.”

The JFC stressed that it supports government efforts to modernize immigration services through the proposed Philippine Immigration Act and other ongoing reforms as these enhance  mobility and promote  the protection of people for tourism and commerce.

“We believe these efforts will help make the Philippine tourism, long stay and retirement industries more competitive with the rest of our Asean neighbors and help the country grow twice as fast as recommended in Arangkada Philippines 2010,” the JFC added.

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