BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said they would tighten the requirements and procedures on the issuance of special and provisional work permits to foreigners.
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Immigration: 'No more blue-collar work permits for foreigners'
Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) - February 7, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Amid complaints that foreigners are taking jobs from Filipinos, the government will no longer issue work permits to aliens wanting to work at construction sites or other blue-collar jobs in the country, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said yesterday. 

BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said they would tighten the requirements and procedures on the issuance of special and provisional work permits to foreigners.

Morente gave the assurance that no work permit would be issued to aliens who want to be employed as construction workers, cashiers, janitors and carpenters, among other blue-collar jobs. 

While professional work is regulated, this will not also be allowed without the approval of Professional Regulation Commission (PRC). 

“This is to ensure that these work permits are issued only to aliens whose jobs could not be performed by Filipinos,” Morente said. 

He said new rules have been issued to address the reported increase in the number of foreign workers in the country, which is reportedly detrimental to Filipino workers.

“These new rules are meant to protect the interest of local workers, as we have observed that in the past, foreigners may abuse their permits and take away jobs from our countrymen,” Morente said. 

Part of its stricter measures is requiring foreign applicants to submit additional documents before they can be issued work permits.

Among the requirements that work permit applicants would have to submit are the validity of their stay as tourists; address, existence, nature of business and financial viability of petitioning company, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) registration and other government licenses to operate.

Only authorized BI officers at the main office and alien control officers in the bureau’s field offices may approve or disapprove applicants for special and provisional work permits. 

Meanwhile, senatorial candidate Mar Roxas yesterday urged the government to stop the influx of illegal Chinese workers in the country.

Roxas, who is running under the Otso Diretso (Straight Eight) slate, made the appeal following reports that 119,000 special visas and 52,000 alien employment permits (AEPs) were issued by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to Chinese workers in 2018.

The former senator is worried that Chinese nationals might be getting jobs that should be for Filipinos, especially in the construction industry.

“I’m just wondering why Chinese nationals are doing the construction jobs in our country. The carpentry and masonry work can be done by Filipinos. They should be our priority for employment,” Roxas said.

Data from the DOLE’s Bureau of Local Employment showed that from 2015 to 2017, a total of 115,652 foreign nationals were issued AEPs. A majority of those are Chinese, at 51,980.

Government officials said the country has enough qualified workers for the government’s infrastructure programs.

Anna Mae Lamentillo, chair of a committee that oversees the administration’s Build, Build, Build program, said the Philippine labor force could meet the higher demand for construction workers.

The country’s employment rate went up to 94.6 percent in July 2018 from 94.4 percent in the same period two years ago, according to Lamentillo.

She assured the public that Filipino workers would benefit from the “Build, Build, Build” program but admitted some specialized tasks might require the expertise of foreigners.

Voluntary regularization

The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) will implement a national voluntary regularization plan covering over 200,000 workers, the DOLE announced yesterday.

The DOLE and ECOP will sign tomorrow a memorandum of agreement providing for the enforcement of the regularization program, according to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

“This will cover workers in more than 3,200 establishments, mostly ECOP members,” Bello said, noting the voluntary regularization program will begin within the month.

“As a start, between 30 to 40 percent of the workers of the pre-identified establishments will benefit from the plan this year alone,” Bello added.

Within the next three years, ECOP member companies are expected to have fully regularized all their estimated 220,000 workers. – With Helen Flores, Mayen Jaymalin

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