Press Release
December 16, 2016

Drilon urges BI overhaul

Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin M. Drilon called for a massive reorganization of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) in light of corruption issues allegedly committed by its high-ranking officials.

Drilon filed Senate Resolution No. 256 urging the Committee on Civil Service and Government Reorganization to look into possible reorganization of the agency "in order to restore public confidence in our immigration controls."

"There is a pressing need to confront and address the systemic and institutional weaknesses that make the BI susceptible to corruption," Drilon said.

The BI has been at the center of controversy over alleged corruption committed by high-ranking officials particularly Associate Commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles, who were accused of having extorted, or received as a payoff, P50 million from Chinese casino mogul Jack Lam.

"The brazen act of corruption allegedly committed by high-ranking immigration officials bolsters the perception of a deeply entrenched culture of corruption in the BI," Drilon said.

He added that the controversy underscores the magnitude of the institutional problem that needs to be addressed and runs counter to the stern and unforgiving anti-corruption policy of President Duterte.

Drilon said there should be stronger standards for selection of officers and a more stringent system for discipline of employees.

"It is imperative to explore the possible reorganization of the BI to carry out immigration reforms designed to make the agency resistant to corruption and to make way for a more efficient implementation of our immigration policies by a professional institution," Drilon underscored.

The senator acknowledged that efforts to curb the opportunities for corruption in the BI were done in the past, but said such efforts appear to be inadequate. Last October, hundreds of immigration officers and staff at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport were reshuffled in a bid to prevent corruption.

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