Press Release
December 18, 2023

CHIZ: REIMBURSEMENT OF OFFLOADED PASSENGERS WON'T AFFECT BI PERSONNEL'S PAY, BENEFITS

Sen. Chiz Escudero has assured employees of the Bureau of Immigration that their salaries and benefits will remain intact and untouched even with the inclusion of a provision in the 2024 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) that allows the reimbursement of thousands of passengers who missed their flights due to long immigration assessment.

Addressing the issue on his social media account X (formerly Twitter) over the weekend, the veteran legislator said there is nowhere in the 2024 GAB that says that the funds to be used to repay the affected passengers will be coming from the budget for employees' salary and augmentation allowances.

"Any diminution from the salary and augmentation of BI personnel is illegal and unauthorized," Escudero said as he reiterated that based on his proposal that was adopted in the final GAB, the reimbursement fund will come from the excess income of the Immigration bureau that is being returned annually to the National Treasury.

"The money to refund offloaded passengers will not come from/nor will it be deducted from BI personnel," he stressed. "I will look closely into this to ensure that the intent and mandate of Congress regarding this is followed to the letter."

Earlier, Escudero said the proposed payment will not need additional budgetary requirement since the money will be charged against the BI's earnings from collections.

"Ang ginalaw ko lamang na pondo ay iyong 10 percent na nakokolekta ng Bureau of Immigration na hindi naman nila nagagamit at binabalik naman nila kada taon sa National Treasury," Escudero said in a previous interview.

"Ang overtime pay ng ating mga immigration officers, mga ibang gastusin ng BI para maayos ang kanilang computers, camera at iba pang mga gamit ay hindi ko naman po ginalaw iyun. So walang nabawasan, walang nasaktan. Ika nga, imbes na bumalik sa Treasury, eh 'di ibigay na lang natin sa mga na-offload ng walang sapat na basehan," he said.

According to BI records, a total of 32,404 Filipino passengers were not allowed to proceed with their flights last year, of which 472 were found to be victims of human trafficking or illegal recruitment.

Escudero also remains hopeful that President Marcos will not veto the provision in the GAB, which is set to be signed into law on December 20, per Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri.

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