Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Sunday said there was no need for legislators to intervene to stop the influx of Chinese nationals illegally working in the Philippines. Guevarra admitted that there were problems in the implementation of immigration laws on foreign workers, but said these could be addressed through closer coordination between the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole). Due to the surge in illegal Chinese workers, a proposal was made in the Senate to strip the BI of the authority to issue special work permits. No need to amend law But Guevarra opposed this.
“This issue can be addressed in a faster way without amending the (immigration) law,” he said. During a public hearing last week, Sen. Joel Villanueva who chairs the committee on labor and employment, blamed the bureau for the surge of illegal Chinese workers, many of whom have been caught working in gaming operations. Removing BI’s discretion Villanueva proposed removing from the BI the discretion to admit foreign workers through special work permits. “It’s not a question of which agency should be solely responsible for the issuance of special work permits; the issue is how to tighten up the rules (on special work permits),” Guevarra said. “The BI and Dole only need to work together on this,” he said. One problem he identified is the failure to “monitor the movement of each and every foreign worker” after the expiration of their special work permit from the immigration bureau, or of their long-term alien employment permit issued by the labor department. To control the entry of foreign workers, he suggested issuing a “negative list” of countries whose nationals would be barred for short-period employment. He said he would discuss the matter with Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III. Guevarra exercises supervision over the immigration bureau, which is attached to the Department of Justice. A foreigner given a special work permit can work here legally for six months. Duterte cautious Foreigners who are hired for highly technical, specialized, supervisory and managerial jobs that cannot be fulfilled by Filipinos are given an alien employment permit that allows them to stay for longer than six months. This developed as President Duterte cautioned against deporting Chinese workers in the Philippines, saying he is also concerned about the 300,000 Filipinos working in China. “The Chinese here, just let them work here, just let them. Why? We have 300,000 Filipinos in China,” he said in Biñan City, Laguna, on Saturday night. “That’s why I cannot just say, ‘Leave, I will deport you.’ What if the 300,000 are suddenly kicked out, just like in the Middle East?” he said.