In this Oct. 19, 2018 photo, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. discusses matters with the Filipino community during a gathering at the Philippine Embassy in Brussels, Belgium.
Presidential Photo
Locsin blames labor attaché for US ban on Filipino workers
Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) - January 24, 2019 - 10:55am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines' top diplomat blamed a Philippine labor attaché for the decision of the United States to remove Filipinos from its eligibility list of temporary working visas.

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) earlier announced that it would no longer issue H-2A and H-2B visas to new Filipino workers for a year due to high overstay rates and human trafficking concerns.

The H-2A and H-2B visas are issued to foreign workers in the US for temporary agricultural and non-agricultural services, respectively.

In Twitter post on Wednesday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. pointed to a female labor attaché "who denounced work/study J1 visas as slavery."

The J-1 or exchange visitor visa is issued to research scholars, professors and exchange visitors participating in programs with a cultural component, according to the US Department of State.

"She started the halls rolling. Salamat on behalf of Filipinos who won't be allowed into the US anymore. Good work," Locsin said.

The DFA chief, however, did not identify the concerned labor attaché.

The DFA earlier reminded Filipinos abroad, particularly those in the US, to follow immigration rules and avoid overstaying following the directive of the DHS.

"As visa issuances are a country’s prerogative, the DFA notes the concerns that led the DHS to arrive at its decision," DFA spokesperson Elmer Cato said earlier this week.

The DFA added that the Philippine government is open to working with the US in addressing the issue.

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, meanwhile, said few Filipino workers are likely to be affected by the one-year ban.

"We will try to assist these OFWs for them to be deployed to other markets abroad," POEA chief Bernard Olalia said.

DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY OVERSEAS FILIPINO WORKERS TEODORO LOCSIN JR. UNITED STATES
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