No work slowdown, airport protesters vow
MANILA, Philippines—Immigration, customs and quarantine officers assigned at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) on Friday assured the public that they will not neglect their duties amid their continuing “silent protest” against the decision of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to suspend their overtime pay.
“Our work here continues; there’s no work slowdown,” Immigration Offices Association of the Philippines president Ferdinand Tendenilla told reporters.
For the second day, immigration, customs and quarantine officers at Naia Terminal 1 continued to display yellow ribbons on the sleeves of their uniforms. At Terminals 2 and 3, the officers wore red and blue arm bands.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said she was assured by Immigration Commissioner Ricardo David Jr. that the situation on the ground would not be worse than it already is.
De Lima said she was concerned that immigration personnel might be remiss in their duties, especially with the President’s order of an intensified manhunt against prominent fugitives who might try to sneak out of the country.
She said immigration employees and other government personnel at the airport have “very vital functions” and there would be “serious consequences” if they abandon their posts, stage a strike or slow down their work.
“They have the right to air grievances and undertake certain activities but as we very well know, they have no right to abandon their posts or slow down work; otherwise, that would open them to administrative and criminal charges under the Revised Penal Code,” De Lima said.
She said she hoped the officers’ protests would be resolved through dialogue.
The officers complained about the DOTC decision suspending their overtime pay beginning August, upon the request of the Board of Airline Representatives and the Airline Operators Council.
The immigration and quarantine officers said overtime pay was justified since they work beyond regular hours and even during holidays, storms and floods, just to serve arriving international passengers.
The airline executives, however, said the payment for overtime was no longer justifiable after the government agencies have instituted 24-hour work shifts at Naia.
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