The Senate committee on labor, employment and human resources development, chaired by Sen. Joel Villanueva, started yesterday its probe into the reported influx of undocumented foreign workers especially Chinese in the country.
AFP
Senate probes influx of illegal foreign workers
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - November 27, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Senators yesterday pressed authorities to crack down on hundreds of thousands of illegal foreign workers in the country as the lawmakers warned the administration that the foreigners are not only taking away jobs from local workers but could also threaten national security.

The Senate committee on labor, employment and human resources development, chaired by Sen. Joel Villanueva, started yesterday its probe into the reported influx of undocumented foreign workers especially Chinese in the country.

The hearing uncovered various loopholes in the government’s visa screening processes and monitoring of aliens as well as the failure of agencies to coordinate that apparently are being exploited by Chinese seeking to work in the country.

An official of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) told the panel for this year alone, the DFA recorded some 1.6 million Chinese tourist arrivals and issued only 18 employment visas.

Many Chinese nationals secure their tourist visas upon arrival in the country that is valid for 29 days and could be extended for another six months, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Sarah Lou Arriola told the committee.

Labor Undersecretary Ciriaco Lagunzad reported that the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) issued 115,652 Alien Employment Permits (AEPs) from 2015 to 2017, of which about half were given to Chinese nationals.

Lagunzad said many Chinese workers arrive as tourists and convert their visas to work permits or employment visas issued by the Bureau of Immigration and various economic zones.

He said the AEPs and other work visas are only issued for technical and supervisory positions.

Villanueva and Sen. Grace Poe pushed for surprise inspections of work places and even condominiums where there are reports of numerous Chinese workers and tenants.

“There should really be a crackdown and the authorities should go to worksites and check if they (Chinese nationals) have permits because this is also a national security issue – we don’t know who are here and how can we protect our country?” Poe told reporters.

Villanueva slammed government agencies for their lack of monitoring and negligence in allowing the influx of illegal foreign workers, mostly Chinese nationals.

He said there is a clear neglect on the part of government agencies in promoting the preferential use of Filipino labor as mandated by the Constitution.

“No matter how many raids we conduct, there will still be many illegal Chinese establishments with illegal Chinese workers if the proper government agencies can’t stop their influx through illegal means,” he said.

Last Nov. 22, some 93 illegal Chinese workers were arrested in an illegal online gaming facility in Pasig City.

Just weeks prior to the incident, 34 Chinese nationals were caught working in a construction site in Pasay City.

In May last year, nine Chinese nationals and an Indonesian were caught operating in a dredging vessel loading lahar and black sand in Macolcol River, San Felipe, Zambales without the necessary permits.

Villanueva lamented the situation as adult joblessness in the country increased to 22 percent or equivalent to 9.8 million unemployed Filipino adults in September this year.

ALIEN EMPLOYMENT PERMITS DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIR DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT ( ILLEGAL FOREIGN WORKERS
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