MANILA - The Department of Labor and Employment should be the sole agency overseeing the issuance of employment permits for foreigners amid a massive influx of foreigners working in the country, a lawmaker said Wednesday.
Sen. Joel Villanueva, chairman of the Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development, said the Bureau of Immigration issued some 180,000 special working permits to foreigners last year.
In about the same time span, hundreds of foreign nationals have been caught working--in both private and government projects--without the correct permits.
"Sa sarili natin ng bayan, nanakawan pa tayo ng trabaho na para sa mga kababayan natin," Villanueva told ANC's Headstart.
(Jobs are being stolen from our countrymen in our own land.)
"Why would BI do something like that when the Constitution itself states na hindi mo pwedeng ibigay 'yan sa foreign nationals, itong mga trabahong ito?...What is the technical competence of the Bureau of Immigration to find out that these jobs, these positions cannot be done by a Filipino? Hindi naman sila DOLE," he said.
"I wanted to make sure it goes to DOLE. DOLE oversees everything because they have the technical know-how and competency."
News reports last month said Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello was considering withdrawing the authority granted to the Bureau of Immigration to issue special work permits to aliens.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra clarified later that the bureau issues the special working permits only to aliens who will work for less than 6 months.
"The proliferation of SWPs may be better addressed thru more stringent enforcement of regulations, periodic re-shuffle of personnel, and technology/intelligence to monitor closely the number of overstaying aliens who have been issued SWPs," he said in a statement on December 28.
CORRUPTION IN THE BUREAU?
Villanueva said his office phoned the Immigration bureau's satellite office in a mall in Taguig City and was told that one only has to apply for a special working permit and it would be issued within a week.
It can even be accomplished within a day by signing up for the "expedite lane," where one would pay P5,000 "but without receipts," he said.
"Can you just imagine how much money they are making?" he said.
BI Spokesperson Dana Sandoval, however, said this lane is unauthorized.
"This is not authorized and is illegal, and we are currently conducting investigations on such reports," she told ABS-CBN News in a text message.
The entire staff in the satellite office has been "revamped...from top to bottom to ensure that reported anomalous activities will be halted, and also so it will not interfere with ongoing investigations," she said.