By Jeffrey Damicog
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II has sought before the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and Commission on Audit (COA) to create guideline for the release of the Bureau of Immigration’s (BI) Express Lane Funds (ELF).
With this, Aguirre asked the personnel of the BI to be more patient in getting a bump in their much-needed extra pay.
“Kaunti pa pong pag-unawa at paghihintay ang ating hiling sa lahat (More understanding and patience is asked from everyone),” he said in a statement today..
The Secretary today said he signed a letter addressed to DBM Secretary Benjamin Diokno and COA chairperson Michael Aguinaldo who were invited to form on March 13 a technical working group (TWG) to draft the guidelines for the release of the funds.
“Ang guidelines na isusulat ng TWG ang magsisilbing susi para po dito. Samahan nyo kami na ito ay magawa ng maayos para sa inyong mas mabuting kapakanan (These guidelines of the TWG will be the key. Join us so that this will be made properly for your benefit),” he urged BI personnel.
It can be recalled that President Duterte in December 2016 vetoed the use of the funds collected from express lane charges to pay the overtimes of BI personnel. Instead to the BI, the funds now go straight to the National Treasury.
This has led to a number of BI personnel complaining of their measly pay and have pushed others to resign and find work elsewhere.
Aguirre said the creation of the TWG is in line with Duterte’s veto message in the 2018 General Appropriations Act (GAA).
Duterte said in his GAA message: “I will allow the establishment of a trust fund to be constituted from the express lane fees and charges collected by the BI for the payment of salaries and overtime to employees of the BI under the Department of Justice (DOJ)-BI, Special Provision No. 1, “Immigration Fees and Collections,” Volume I-A, page 1062, subject to such guidelines as the Secretary of Justice, the Secretary of Budget and Management, and the Commission on Audit may promulgate.”