MANILA — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has appealed to Congress to pass a new immigration law.
BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said it is time for lawmakers to craft a new law that will replace the “antiquated” Immigration Act under which the agency still operates.
“We appeal to our lawmakers in Congress to prioritize the passage of a new Philippine Immigration Act. This law is long overdue and now is the time to pass it,” he said in a statement Thursday.
The appeal was issued in time for the bureau’s 77th anniversary on September 4.
Morente noted that the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940 is no longer attuned to present realities as the said law was passed during the Commonwealth period when the country was still a United States colony.
“In those days we were not yet confronted with the problems of terrorism and human trafficking. And ideas such as globalization, borderless economies and free trade were not yet practiced,” the BI chief explained.
“It’s about time that we enact a new immigration law that will cater to our national interest in these modern times,” he added.
Morente said the new immigration law should be able to address the growing threat of international trafficking and the scourge of human trafficking that has victimized many Filipinos. It should also plug loopholes in the BI’s systems and practices that are prone to corrupt practices.
He added that the corruption can be curbed if the law upgrades the salary scales of BI employees which he described as very low compared to the take home pay that their counterparts in other Asian countries get.
Former US president Franklin Roosevelt signed into law Commonwealth Act No. 613 or the Philippine Immigration Act on Sept. 3, 1940, which created the BI and placed it under the supervision of the Office of the President.
The agency has been under three agencies, Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of the President and Department of Labor.
In 1948, the BI reverted to the supervision of the DOJ where it remains up to the present. (PNA)