Q: The worldwide advocacy group, Government Trafficking In Person (GTIP), has ranked the Philippines no. 1 in Asia on compliance of anti-human trafficking since 2010, how was the Immigration Bureau able to do that?
A: TEAM EFFORT. Our country’s anti trafficking campaign requires the participation of several agencies. BI only gets involved when the victims or the traffickers are found in our ports of exit. Our immigration officers are periodically trained to detect, disturb, and deter these syndicates. Once detected, partner agencies are ready to assist.
Aside from training, our current set of officers have been exposed to value formation and national transformation seminars to make them truly understand the ill-effects of human trafficking not only to the victims themselves but also to our society and country as a whole. Due to our daily encounter with trafficking situations, our supervisors have attained enough experience to be even resource persons (SME in fact) to share what we do to our counterparts from other countries.
Q: The Philippines is also number 1 country in turning back convicted sex offenders from the USA, why is this move being done?
A: We do it as a matter of policy as we consider registered sex offenders in the USA as bad guys, unwanted visitors so to speak. The basic presumption is that if they have committed sexual related offenses in the past, no matter how long ago, they are prone to commit the same especially in an environment like ours as we are inherently friendly and hospitable to foreigners. The risks of having Filipino victims falling as prey to these sexual predators outweigh the potential benefits (revenue?) of a tourist who is a sex offender. Unless these sex offenders can rebut this presumption by way of a petition to the SOJ, they will not be allowed entry to the country.
Q: You have introduced hiring based on merit with your slogan ‘Good guys in, bad guys out.’ From 6,000 applicants, you selected 200. What is the the impact of this move to the bureau and to the country?
A: The impact is a game changer. We will relentlessly pursue this merit based personnel recruitment and selection process to insure that our frontline officers possess the needed competence and skills set to become the “face of the government” to our legitimate visitors and at the same time be the enforcers of strict border control against undesirables. We also reactivated a Board of Discipline to weed out the few remaining bad guys from within. We are optimistic that our new recruits will infect the others with a good virus to gradually create a better culture of excellence instead of mediocrity, innovation instead of complacency, integrity instead of corruption. The game will not change instantly but it will soon enough especially if these reforms will be sustained under the next set of leadership.
Q: What other innovation have you introduced to the Immigration Bureau and why?
A: We introduced a lot during the past years. And these innovations came from a pool of talented officers who just needed a slight nudge to show off their talents. We came up with a voluntary registration program to encourage illegal aliens to come out in the open with a commitment of no arrest, detention, or deportation. In tandem with such voluntary surrender, we also developed an informants incentive program to allow any well meaning person to report to the Bureau via text message any illegal alien in exchange for a financial reward. Faced with these two innovations, illegal aliens will either comply with immigration law OR face deportation once reported by their not so friendly neighbor to the Bureau.
For personnel morale, we have introduced wellness programs targeting the body mind and spirit as well as team building activities to promote camaraderie among office mates. We now have scholarship grants for dependents of employees with around 20 participating schools. Uniforms will now be adorned with medals and ribbons to enhance organizational pride. Promotions of personnel are systematized and based on points system, no longer based on a letter from a person of influence.
We introduced these innovations affecting personnel purposely to have a happy workforce in the Bureau, ultimately. And when you’re happy with what you’re doing, there will be little room for evil thoughts and deeds to set in.