The Bureau of Immigration has launched a total crackdown against foreign workers who are illegally working in casinos, construction sites, online gambling and retail stores in the country.
The crackdown has netted more than 500 illegal foreign workers since January this year, but the biggest apprehension was the arrest of 276 foreign nationals in a massive raid of a network technology company along Ayala Avenue in Makati City earlier this week, according to Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente.
He warned that all foreigners who are working without the proper working visa will be apprehended, deported and included in the bureau’s black list order.
Morente also urged all foreigners wanting to work in the Philippines to secure proper working documents at the BI, Department of Labor and Employment, the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and other government agencies that issue working visas.
The arrest of 276 foreigners, mostly Chinese, was carried out after lawmakers observed the rise of foreign workers in construction sites, restaurants, hotels, and retail stores—jobs that can be filled by Filipino workers.
According to Morente, the BI received reports foreign nationals were working in the building without the required immigration visas or permits.
“We are serious about our drive against illegal aliens and are focusing our energies on arresting those working without the proper documentation, stealing jobs from Filipinos,” the immigration chief said. Vito Barcelo
BI Intelligence Division Chief Fortunato Manahan Jr. said those arrested in Makati are undergoing verification of their travel documents and immigration status. He said most of them are engaged in the online gaming business.
“Most were undocumented and were unable to present any proof showing their status here during the arrest,” said Manahan. “If proven to be working here without the proper visa, they may be charged for deportation.”
Meanwhile, the DOLE said that all POGO-employed foreigners will be checked to see if they have valid Alien Employment Permits.
All POGO operations in Manila, as well as the special economic zones in the Clark Freeport and Subic Bay, will be inspected to determine their staff’s eligibility to work in the Philippines.
Philippine law prohibits foreign-owned or sponsored business projects from hiring more than 20 percent of their total workforce from overseas, and foreign nationals can only be hired for jobs that local workers either can’t or won’t do.
Most Philippines-based online gambling operators are predominantly China-facing and thus require staff that can speak Mandarin.
Tutay suggested that local online gambling licensees should be required to train Filipino workers to conduct business in Mandarin as part of the licensees’ corporate social responsibility.
DOLE is also considering eliminating other government departments’ ability to issue special work permits for foreign nationals in the local gaming industry, with the ultimate aim to make the labor department the sole authority for issuing POGO work permits. VITO BARCELO