House panel approves BI modernization bill

A measure seeking to modernize, professionalize and improve the compensation of officials and personnel of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) has hurdled committee level at the House of Representatives.

The House Committee on Appropriations approved on Wednesday a substitute bill on the proposed BI Modernization Act, which is among the priority measures identified by President Rodrigo Duterte in his fifth State of the Nation Address in July.

Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez, one of the authors of the measure, said the proposal would replace the 1940 immigration law known as Commonwealth Act No. 613.

“The proposed new immigration law aims to make the BI more responsive to the challenges and developments of migration and immigration, which require streamlining and modernizing the bureau and expanding its powers and functions,” Rodriguez said.

The bill defines the powers and functions of the immigration bureau, its commissioner, two deputy commissioners and other officials, and directorates and offices under it.

It also upgrades the salaries of BI officers and personnel.

He noted that although changes in the 1940 law had been made in the past, the statute “has ceased to be responsive to present-day conditions and realities.”

Rodriguez said aside from the pastillas scam that protected mostly illegal Chinese nationals, “many aliens in the country have been involved in various crimes, including kidnapping, smuggling, human trafficking, labor recruitment, and terrorism.”

Source: Philippines News Agency

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