(File photo)

MANILA – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Thursday reported that it has significantly improved its services under the administration of former President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

In his transition report, Commissioner Jaime Morente listed numerous achievements of the bureau, as well as continuing plans and programs.

He said they have implemented both short and medium-term solutions to eliminate irregularities by revamping and continuously rotating all personnel assigned at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Morente said airport operations were also reorganized by assigning vital units to serve as a layer of auditing and checks and balances for airport personnel.

He also ensured that personnel improvement is prioritized, and sought to improve employee welfare, especially during the pandemic.

“BI employees received Covid-19 vaccinations as front-liners, and were provided medical support,” Morente said.

He said under the Duterte administration, the BI's manpower was maximized with the filling of 2,058 out of 2,764 plantilla positions, and the hiring of 200 contractual employees for its daily operations nationwide.

For organizational improvement, the BI established the Planning and Policy Division to oversee plans and programs of the bureau and the streamlining of all BI processes to promote the ease of doing business.

“Manuals have also been published to ensure the proper delivery of immigration services,” Morente said.

He said these improved systems contributed to the high income of the Bureau. Prior to the pandemic, the BI reported its highest income of PHP11.9 billion which implies that more foreign nationals legalized their stay in the country.

BI was also cited for three straight years by the Presidential Communications Operations Office for its efforts in providing information to the public.

Morente’s project, the Facebook Page Immigration Helpline PH which served as a direct line of the public to the Commissioner, was also a useful tool to answer queries and concerns of the public.

The BI has also been involved in various international exchanges and activities, the most major of which is the country’s hosting of the 24th Asean Directors-General of Immigration Departments and Heads of Consular Affairs Divisions of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs held virtually in 2021.

“The Bureau has also been very active in apprehending and deporting thousands of illegal aliens infringing on immigration laws,” Morente added.

Many of those arrested were engaged in illegal trade, online gambling, telecommunications fraud, or were overstaying.

“We have also intensified our anti-terrorism efforts, especially in the southern region, and have ensured that all bases are covered by assigning regional intelligence heads to monitor their respective areas for reports of illegal and undesirable aliens. I hope that in the coming years, the BI will continue its path towards improvement, as it moves towards its vision of providing the most excellent, efficient, effective, and innovative public service,” Morente added.

The Philippines has been awarded the Tier 1 status by the US State Department Trafficking in Persons Report for six straight years.

“As a member of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking, the BI has continuously fought against human trafficking and illegal recruitment. The Philippines is the first in the Asean region to receive such a rating, and is one of four in Asia,” Morente said.

He added that they also aimed to modernize systems of the BI through the creation of the information systems strategic plan, installing high-definition 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 man-less counters that allowed faster processing for arriving Filipinos.

Also highlighted in the report was the initiation of the Advance Passenger Information System, which would enable the BI to advance the security vetting of international travelers. (PNA)