New policy on foreign workers out by May 1
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) expects to have more teeth in its campaign against illegal foreign workers with an interagency directive that will prohibit foreigners who come in as tourists from working in the country.
The department wants to issue the new policy in time for Labor Day.
Under the joint memorandum circular being worked out by the DOLE, the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Immigration, foreigners would no longer be able to convert their tourist visas into working visas.
Proper work visa
“We will no longer allow foreign nationals who really intend to work here to come in without the proper visa. They cannot just come in as 9A (tourist) visa holders, and they cannot convert the 9A into a working visa once the policy is issued,” said Dominique Tutay, chief of the DOLE’s Bureau of Local Employment.
On top of this policy, which is expected to be issued on or before May 1, Tutay said the issuance of special work permits (SWPs) by the immigration bureau would be limited to foreigners who belong to any of 14 categories and who would conduct activities in the country on a short-term basis.
Among the categories are athletes, artists, missionaries and other professionals who will “not practice their profession but will just train and transfer knowledge” to their Filipino colleagues, she said.
Tutay said that in the case of Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos), their workers would no longer be allowed to have a work permit only but must secure from the DOLE an alien employment permit (AEP).
Language barrier excuse
Pogos have made the language barrier as an excuse for hiring foreign workers.
Data from both the DOLE and immigration showed that of the 138,000 Pogo foreign workers, most of whom are Chinese, 83,760 are SWP holders while the rest are AEP holders.
An AEP is issued only to a foreigner if there is no Filipino competent enough or willing to do the job.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III expressed confidence that with these new policies, they would be able to close the loopholes being exploited by people who bring in foreign workers to the country and deprive Filipinos of jobs.
“That is the intention. [To] once for all prevent the entry of illegal foreign workers,” Bello said.
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