MANILA To help further ease congestion at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) employees will soon help the Bureau of Immigration (BI) in customer relations, an official told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Thursday.
Immigration Port Operations Division chief Grifton Medina said that while BI has a sufficient number of officers, it still welcomes Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade's suggestion to have a strike force at the country's main gateway. Tugade earlier suggested that MIAA employees should help the BI.
"We have enough (number of) officers. Additional 67 will also be deployed. About 20 of them are currently having their OJT at the main office," Medina said.
The official clarified that BI would accept the help or support from MIAA, but it is only the BI officers who can sit at the counters.
MIAA employees could help them in queuing and customer relations, he added.
"This is a huge help, because that would enable our officers to focus on their jobs, especially those who are at the TCEU (Travel Control and Enforcement Unit)," he remarked.
Medina said MIAA employees who will be part of the strike force will still need to undergo training from BI.
"We will train them how to fill up the departure card; (inform them) the required documents. This is a huge help. Can you just imagine if an OFW would queue in a long line only to find out his or documents are not complete? It's better when there is someone who can check the documents while the passengers are in line," he explained.
Close to 100 employees might be needed to be part of the strike force, according to Medina, noting that NAIA has three terminals catering to international flights.
Aside from that, he pointed out that manpower is needed in the arrival and departure areas. Furthermore, the BI works on three shifts.
"Let's just say three people from MIAA will work per shift and per (departure or arrival area). There are three shifts, and three terminals. Add to that these people would also take a leave or have their days off. So there's a certain number of (work force) that we would need," he reiterated.
He also clarified that it would be up to MIAA's discretion if it would hire new employees for this job, or if it would "divert" jobs of those who are already inside.
"Aside from assisting us in queuing and customer relations, they will also assist us in manning the e-gates," he said.
Some BI officers are being stationed at the e-gates to assist passengers who might encounter problems while using the facility.
"To have them function in customer relations is also helpful, because you know, the public's perception of immigration officers is that we are snob," Medina commented.
Meanwhile, Medina said the BI targets that the strike force will be in place starting September, in preparation for the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games the country is hosting in November to December.
The strike force, however, is not just for the SEA Games, but for permanent deployment, he added. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency