BI warns of illegal recruitment scheme victimizing former Overseas Filipino Workers

Marje Pelayo   •   April 12, 2021   •   251

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) is warning illegal recruiters taking advantage of former overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) amid the current employment crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This was after members of the BI Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU) at the Clark International Airport intercepted the departure of an illegal recruitment victim bound for Dubai last April 5, 2021.

The victim, whose name was not divulged following human trafficking and illegal recruitment laws, attempted to depart for Dubai via an Emirates Airlines flight.

The victim presented an overseas employment certificate (OEC) being a Balik Manggagawa, but upon checking of his documents, Immigration Officer Vanessa Icban noticed some inconsistencies and referred the matter to members of BI’s TCEU for further inspection.

Upon further checking, TCEU officer Tomas David and Vincent Serrano noted that the victim arrived in the country in 2019, and possessed a Dubai work visa.

However, after verification, it was found that his work visa has already been cancelled, and he has an active tourist visa.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente commended the efforts of the Clark immigration officers in intercepting said victim.

“I know it is a challenge to intercept such cases as they are presenting complete documents and are in the guise of being legitimate OFWs,” said Morente.

“We commend the quick eye of our immigration officers, which allowed them to uncover this modus,” he added.

In the said scheme, former OFWs whose visas and contracts have expired are given new tourist visas which allow them to depart and work illegally as tourists, using their old OEC records.

“This is an obvious circumvention of the law, and victims are promised that they can depart using their old OECs that are, in fact, invalid already,” the BI Chief said.

“Victims end up working for a different employer, or worse, fly off to a third country like Iraq or Syria,” he added.

The victim was turned over to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration Labor Assistance Center Pampanga for assistance.

Over 500K OFWs repatriated amid COVID-19 pandemic – DOLE

Robie de Guzman   •   June 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government has brought home around 564,000 overseas Filipino workers amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said Thursday.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said around 130,000 OFWs, whose jobs were affected by the public health crisis, remain in their host countries, but up to 80,000 of them have refused to return to the Philippines.

“They opted to stay, especially those in Europe, and that’s very understandable kasi alam mo naman sa Europe ‘yung kanilang insurance benefits umaabot ng 1 to 1/2 years kaya kampante sila,” Bello said at a Palace press briefing.

“Pero meron pa naman tayong mga around siguro umaabot pa ng mga 50,000 na kababayan na naghihintay ng repatriation,” he added.

The labor chief said up to 1,500 Filipinos are being repatriated daily but it could have gone up to 2,000 to 3,000 if not for the Inter-Agency Task Force’s resolution setting a cap on inbound international passengers at 1,500 per day.

“Kaya ganoon kahirap trabaho ng OWWA at ganoon kapuno ang ating mga hotels as the facilities of our OFWs,” he said.

Bello, meanwhile, assured that Filipino seafarers, particularly those who recovered from COVID-19, would still be able to get employed again.

“It’s high time that we Filipinos realized na ‘yung ating Filipino seafarers are the most preferred seafarers in the world. Hinahabol ‘yung ating mga seafarers kaya ‘yung kanilang chance for re-employment ay napakataas,” he said.

He also expressed confidence that proposals to inoculate OFWs with single-dose COVID-19 vaccine would help speed up the deployment of Filipino migrant workers.

“I thank (vaccine czar) Secretary (Carlito) Galvez for thinking of a process na ang ating mga OFW ay one dosage na lang sila and that will facilitate the deployment of our OFWs especially seafarers,” he said.

Deployment of OFWs to Israel remains suspended for three more weeks — DOLE

Marje Pelayo   •   May 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has extended to three more weeks the suspension on the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Israel.

According to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, the agency needs to make sure that all OFWs bound for Israel would be safe and the truce between Israel and Hamas is sincerely being carried out by both parties.

“Give it another two or three weeks at ma-maintain talaga ang strict observance of the ceasefire agreement between Israel and the Palestinian and the Hamas then we will already consider giving the OFWs the OEC which is the final document for their deployment,” Bello assured.

Once the suspension is lifted, about 400 caregivers may be accepted right away as stipulated under the Philippines and Israel’s bilateral agreement.

This is in addition to around 30,000 OFWs in Israel who are mostly caregivers.

To date, no Filipinos are hurt or killed in the ongoing unrest. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Foreigners’ unused entry exemptions docs considered expired starting June 1 – BI

Marje Pelayo   •   May 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Starting June 1, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said that foreign nationals with entry exemption documents (EEDs) issued before February 8 this year will no longer be allowed entry.

In an advisory, BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said the BI will implement the said travel guidelines pursuant to a communication received from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

“We were informed by the DFA that entry exemption documents now have a validity of 90 days from the date of issuance,” said Morente.

“As an effect, we were informed that all issued before February 8 are deemed expired by June 1,” he added.

Thus, aliens who are still holding said EEDs that remain unused must enter the country on or before May 31.

Meanwhile, entry exemptions issued by the National Task Force Against Covid-19 (NTF) during the travel ban from March 22 to April 30 may still be used until May 31.

BI Port Operations Division Chief Atty. Carlos Capulong said this was allowed by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) in a resolution passed earlier this month which ruled that entry exemptions issued by the NTF shall be recognized as valid until May 31.

Capulong added that in compliance with the IATF-MEID resolution, all 9(A) visa holders, as well Special Resident Retirees Visa (SRRV) holders, are required to secure entry exemptions from the DFA to be allowed entry into the Philippines.

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