Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go has filed Senate Bill 1649, or the Bureau of Immigration Modernization Act of 2020, designed to improve the immigration services of the country and make them more responsive to new and increasing challenges.
“Isinusulong natin sa Senado na amyendahan ang lumang batas upang mas mapabuti ang serbisyo sa immigration, mas maaalagaan ang mga Pilipino, at mas maprotektahan ang bansa sa iba’t ibang panganib na pwedeng dumating,’’ Go said. (We are pushing in the Senate an amendment to the old law in order to upgrade the immigration services, and to further protect the country from the different challenges that it may come.)
He pointed out that the current immigration law is already 80 years old, as it was passed in 1940. Hence, a new law is clearly imperative to respond to new challenges and modernize the country’s immigration services.
He was referring to the Commonwealth Act (CA) 613, known as “The Philippine Immigration Act of 1940,” which, he observed is “an outdated law passed during the American regime.”
The proposed law aims to provide improved guidelines to closely monitor foreigners coming inside the country, such as for those who are entering the Philippines either for tourism or long-term stay.
SB 1649 would create a system of documentation and prescribe better procedures and requirements for admission of immigrants and non-immigrants, Go explained.
Bureau of Immigration (BI) is principally responsible for the implementation of all laws, rules and regulations concerning entry, admission, stay and departure from the Philippines of all persons.
Given the new and emerging forms of threats to Filipinos, such as child sexual abuse and cross-border terrorism, the law must now be improved to better deal with these, Go stressed.
“First line of defense natin ang Bureau of Immigration. Patuloy na nagbabago ang anyo at diskarte ng mga dayuhang may masamang balak na manamantala sa ating mga mamamayan. Dapat unahan ng gobyerno ang mga pagbabagong ito upang mas maprotektahan ang Pilipino laban sa terorismo at iba pang krimen na dinadala sa ating bansa,’’ he said. (The Bureau of Immigration is the first line of our defense. Foreigners with ill intention to take advantage of our countrymen continue to change their looks and schemes. The government needs to act fast in order to further protect the Filipinos against terrorism and other crimes brought into the country.)
Other provisions of the bill include providing for categories of non-immigrants and types of visas, such as temporary visitors, transit persons, treaty traders and investors, accredited government officials, students, pre-arranged employment, religious workers, representatives of accredited international organizations and government agencies, media workers, exchange visitors, refugees, and special non-immigrants.
An upgrade of their salary grades is indicated in the bill to provide proper compensation commensurate to their profession considering the changing times.
It also includes prescription of penal sanctions for violations of immigration laws and rules.
The bill also complements the other bill filed by Senator Go—Senate Bill 1650.
SB 1650 seeks to amend Section 5 (b) of the Republic Act No. 7610 or the “Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act”.
The proposed amendment of the Anti-Child Abuse Law will increase the penalty from reclusion temporal in its medium period to reclusion perpetua (permanent imprisonment) for any individual engaging in lascivious conduct or sexual activity with minors under twelve years of age.
“Mariin po nating tinututulan ang pang-aabuso sa ating mga kabataan. Kaya naman po isinusulong ko ang panukalang ito sa Senado upang masiguro na protektado ang ating mga kabataan laban sa mga ganitong pang-aabuso,’’ he said. (We strongly oppose abuses committed against our youth. This is the reason why I am pushing for this proposal in the Senate in order to ensure that our youth are protected from this kind of abuses.)