PASAY CITY, Philippines – The Senate has launched an investigation into the alleged growing number of illegal foreign workers in the country.
The Senate, in particular, is concerned about the growing number Chinese workers employed locally without proper documents especially in the National Capital Region (NCR) wherein their number has already reached up to around 200,000.
“Kapag umikot ka po dito sa NCR dun po sa BGC, sa eastwood, kung saan, tingin ko hindi lang 200,000,” observed Senator Joel Villanueva.
The senators are questioning the actions being taken by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in monitoring the activities of foreign workers especially those working illegally across the country.
The DOLE is the only agency that issues alien employment permit to foreigners applying for working visa at the Bureau of Immigration (BI).
According to the Senate, the DOLE should carefully screen all applications for special working permits especially those whose permits have already expired and are already overstaying.
“The policy issue I think, if they are still here beyond 6 months,” said DOLE Usec. Ciriaco Lagunzad.
The BI reports that there are around 119,000 foreigners already issued with special work permits. The agency admits that most of these numbers are Chinese nationals.
“Most of them are Chinese and they are work for POGO (Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators),” confirmed Atty. Homer Arellano, Chief for Prosecution and Legal Assistance, BI.
The lawmakers also are looking into the scheme of illegal workers where they use a tourist visa to enter the country then find a job afterwards.
Based on BI’s records, there are around 1.6M people were granted Chinese Tourist visa for this year.
Senator Grace Poe said her colleagues in the Senate all agree on a crackdown against illegal Chinese and other foreign workers.
“Kailagan talaga magkaroon ng crackdown. Sinabi nga ng commitee na ito na proactively… puntahan itong mga sites na ito, hingan sila talaga ng work permit kasi national security issue rin yan,” Poe said.
The BI admits they are lacking in personnel who will do the inspection. Overall, BI only has 80 inspectors deployed across the country.
The DOLE said such matter should be among the priority of the government next year. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)