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Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Jaime Morente has urged lawmakers to pass a new immigration law that has more teeth.

“It is necessary to equip the BI with the necessary legal and administrative tools for us to effectively carry out our mandate,” he said in a statement.

Morente pointed out that the Philippine Immigration Act is “a very old law” enacted in the 1940s and “the rates included there are not applicable anymore.”

“However, if we impose stiff penalties, then it could serve as a deterrent against violations,” the BI chief pointed out.

Morente cited specifically changing Section 44 of the Immigration Act which states that aircrafts and vessels won’t be allowed to depart until they pay the P500 fines for every improperly documented aliens brought into the Philippines.

The fine was increased in 1999 to P50,000 by then BI Commissioner Rufus Rodriguez as approved by then Justice Sec. Serafin Cuevas but was brought back to P500 in 2016 by then Justice Sec. Emmanuel Caparas who acted on the petition of an airline which questioned the legality of the increase.

The Commission on Audit (COA) has already flagged the P272 million uncollected fines of the BI due airlines refusing to pay as they questioned the legality.

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