By Mario Casayuran
Senator Risa Hontiveros said Friday her Senate women and children committee is likely to recommend in her committee report that there is a need to revise the country’s immigration law from 1940.
In a DWIZ radio interview, Hontiveros said updating BI’s equipment is also needed, such as an electronic passage of passengers at immigration counters to avert physical contact with BI personnel.
This no-contact electronic immigration process is being adopted in Singapore.
The proposed updating of the BI equipment followed her committee public hearing last Thursday on the multi-billion-peso racket where immigration officials allowed foreigners to come into the country or even escort them without visas to work at the controversial Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGO) operations in the country.
Aside from the alleged non-payment of taxes by POGO operators, the POGO operations have triggered prostitution activities, usually involving Chinese women, and illegal activities.
There are reports that the amount involved in the BI bribery operation called “pastillas” has reached P10 billion “and counting.”
Hontiveros said her committee is open to suggestions on how best to improve the BI, while there are calls in the Senate for an immediate halt to POGO operations.
BI Commissioner Jaime Morente is taking the flak, but pointed out that the old BI law does not empower him to appoint his subordinates.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo had said “the present situation at the BI, as well as how it is being run by Commissioner Morente, will be taken up in the next Cabinet meeting.’’