MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – Several immigration officers have been skipping work due to President Rodrigo Duterte’s veto of their overtime pay, and that has caused long lines at Manila's airports.
The response of Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno on Monday, April 3: these immigration workers could be easily replaced since they hold “contractual” positions.
"Ang nature ng job nila ay job orders. 'Yung pagmamatigas nila, they can be replaced anytime 'pag hindi ka nag-report for work when you're supposed to work. Job orders sila eh saka contractual positions, hindi regular plantilla positions 'yan," Diokno said in an interview on GMA 7’s Balitanghali.
(The nature of their work is job orders. If they continue to insist they can be replaced anytime. If they don't report for work, they can be replaced anytime. They're job orders, contractual positions.)
“Nagmamatigas sila na gusto pa nila 'yung old setup 30 years ago na everybody will receive an extra pay that is against the law. Sa batas, ang overtime mo should not exceed 50% of your regular pay. Sila nakakatanggap sila 5 times ng regular pay nila,” Diokno added.
(They are bent on enforcing a 30-year-old setup, where everybody will receive an extra pay that is against the law. Under the law, your overtime should not exceed 50% of your regular pay. They were receiving 5 times worth their regular pay.)
They are part of plantilla
Diokno’s statement is wrong, as immigration officers are part of the plantilla of the Bureau of Immigration (BI).
"Yes immigration officers are holders of regular plantilla positions. Job Orders cannot perform immigration officer functions," said Antonette Mangrobang, BI spokesperson.
Ironically, it is the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) that approves the creation of plantilla positions in government.
The agency even recently approved the opening of 887 new plantilla positions, which will form the newly-created Port Operations Division of the BI.
While there are contractuals in the agency, these are mostly in the main offices and are serving administrative tasks. Immigration officers, meanwhile, are those monitoring and securing the departure and arrival of citizens and foreigners in Philippine airports, among others.
Rappler got hold of the appointment papers of two Immigration Officers I. Both documents indicate they were hired for the “permanent” position with a salary grade 11.
Asked about the inconsistency, Diokno now said immigration officers are indeed "permanent" workers, contrary to his earlier remarks. He then added there are other types of employees in the agency.
"No. What you met are permanent workers. But that's not the totality of workers. In addition, there are job orders and contract of service (COS). The latter two types do not involve employer-employee relationship," Diokno said in a text message to Rappler.
But in the earlier TV interview, Diokno was clearly referring to airport immigration officers as "contractual" employees.
Misleading salary information
The DBM also posted "inaccurate" information on the salary of immigration officers. In a press statement on Tuesday, April 4, the agency said these personnel get a "total monthly compensation" of P28,931 without overtime.
Immigration officers called this a "lie to mislead the public," saying they only receive a gross monthly salary, including a P2,000 monthly allowance, of P21,286 with their salary grade. Minus taxes and deductions, they take home at least P16,484.51 each month, as shown in these payslips.
DBM, for its part, said “the total monthly compensation” they posted in their official statement includes an immigration officer's one-time clothing allowance, one-time mid-year bonus, one-time yearend bonus, and the government contributions to Philhealth and Pag-ibig.
These information are not included in the monthly payslip, which only reflects the gross salary, the P2,000 monthly allowance, among others.
Aside from the non-payment of overtime fees of immigration officers, Duterte's veto has also affected hundreds of contractual employees in the agency.
Since January, these contractual staff have not been receiving their monthly salary despite going to work regularly, after Duterte scrapped the source of funds in the 2017 national budget. (READ: Duterte's veto leaves thousands of BI workers scrambling for money) – with a report from Lian Buan / Rappler.com
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email email@example.com