Villanueva, Poe want ‘crackdown’ vs illegal foreign workers in PH
Two senators have called for an urgent “crackdown” on foreign nationals working illegally in the country amid noticeable influx of Chinese people in the Philippines.
Senator Joel Villanueva, chair of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development, blamed government agencies concerned of negligence on ensuring that Filipinos are prioritized employment in the country.
“Napakaklaro na kapabayaan ang nakita natin ngayon sa pagdinig ng iba’t-ibang ahensya ng pamahalaan para pangalagaan ang mga trabahong dapat para sa ating kababayan. It’s unacceptable. We have to do more,” Villanueva told reporters in an interview on Monday.
“I think it’s about time to put in place protective measures to ensure that Filipino workers are prioritized in their own country and will always have a fighting chance in this age of rapidly shrinking global economy,” he said.
Villanueva said the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) should launch a crackdown and exercise their visitorial powers to make sure no foreigners can work in the country illegally.
He even volunteered to accompany them during inspection of offices or stores where illegal foreign nationals were reportedly being employed.
“Ito yung challenge natin sa kanila na magkaroon ng malasakit at gawin nila ‘yung trabaho nila to make sure na hindi nananakawan ng trabaho ang ating mga kababayan. To make sure na nakikita natin tayong mga regular na mamamayan dito sa bansa, hindi tayo nagtataka kung bakit ganito kadami at bumabaha ‘yung mga illegal Chinese workers sa ating bansa,” he said.
“Ito nga yung panawagan natin kanina na anytime of the day, sasamahan ko sila ang BI, ang Dole at sino mang inspector, visitorial powers nila para tingnan ito at matanong kung ito bang mga ito ay nagtatrabaho legally. Anytime sasamahan ko sila,” he added.
The senator said the BI and Dole do not have to go far.
“Huwag na po tayong lumayo para humanap ng ebidensya. Dito po mismo sa paligid ng Senate compound, may mga mini-Chinatown na. D’yan po sa Kabab restaurant sa MOA kung kakain po kayo d’yan ay aakalain mong nasa China ka na. Kahit po sa ASEAN City, dyan sa City of Dreams, at sa mga nakahilerang condominiums sa paligid, puro mga Chinese nationals na po ang makikita dyan,” Villanueva noted.
According to Villanueva, illegal foreign workers manage to enter the country by initially acquiring tourist visas and then later on avail permits to enable them to work in the country.
One of such permits is the alien employment permit (AEP), which is issued to foreign nationals with highly technical skills that Filipinos could not provide.
Villanueva pointed out that only 150,000 AEPs were issued by the Dole from 2015 to 2017 but he surmised there are over 200,000 foreign nationals working illegally in Metro Manila alone.
Villanueva said foreign nationals who are found to be working in the country illegally will be arrested and immediately deported.
On Monday, Villanueva started his panel’s investigation into the influx of illegal Chinese workers in the country after a raid in Pasig City led to the arrest of 11 Filipinos and 93 Chinese nationals for alleged involvement in illegal online gambling.
Senator Grace Poe, who also attended the hearing, agreed there should be a crackdown on foreign nationals illegally working in the country.
“Kailangan magkakaroon talaga ng crackdown, sinabi na ng committee na proactively si Senator Joel at siguro ang iba sa amin makikitulong na puntahan itong mga sites na ito at hingian sila ng work permit,” Poe told reporters.
“Kasi national security issue rin ‘yan. Kung hindi natin alam kung sino ang mga naririto paano natin babantayan ang ating kapaligiran,” she added.
Poe urged the BI and Dole to be stricter in letting foreign nationals work in the country, stressing that employment of Filipinos should be prioritized.
“Kailangang maging istrikto ang ating immigration at suriing mabuti ang mga pumapasok dito. Dapat pigilin ng DOLE ang bilang ng mga banyaga na nagtatrabaho dito para mabigyan ng prayoridad ang ating mga mangagawa,” Poe said.
Poe said the BI and Dole should no longer allow foreign nationals to apply for tourist visas extension especially when it is clear they are planning to work in the country.
“Sinabi namin sa Dole at sa Bureau of Immigration, ‘wag silang magi-issue ng extension kung ang pagpasok dito ay turista. Obviously niloloko lang tayo, sabi nila turista sila ‘yun pala may balak naman pala sila ditong magtrabaho,” Poe said.
“Sa umpisa pa lang dapat tinitigil na natin ‘yon, kung turista ka tapos humingi ka ng work permit para mag-extend, wag na nating payagan ‘yon. At marami sa kanila wala talagang lehitimong work permit pagpasok dito,” she added. Daphne Galvez, INQUIRER.net /kga
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