Where are they?

"Let us not be too hospitable."



An estimated 7,000 foreign workers in the country cannot be traced by the Department of Labor and the Bureau of Immigration. This is the height of government inefficiency—or a gross complicity to make money out of the mostly Chinese workers under the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations scheme.

These shadowy workers cannot be found because the intention is not to find them.

There appears to be basis for this scenario. Finding these workers would open a can of worms in a Senate inquiry, including the fact they are not paying any income taxes to the Philippine government.

Since the government seems bent on not finding these overstaying and now-illegal workers, Filipino citizens can expose where they live.

Condo unit owners are alarmed at the proliferation of Chinese residents in their buildings. Administration officials of condominiums must check who buys or rents and then determine who are here under a long legal work arrangement. Otherwise, these foreigners must not be allowed to rent or buy a unit. Real estate agents must also cooperate in checking the immigration status of their prospective clients.

Lest I am seen as anti-Chinese, let me be clear: I am simply for legal and proper acquisition of real estate property. Because of the moneyed foreign buyers or renters, purchase or rental prices of condo units have skyrocketed beyond the means of the locals.

Real estate agents might not be too happy about making it hard on foreign clients because it would affect their earning capacity. The sales and rental of condos have been brisk. Do not wonder why with so many condo towers rising in the metropolis, there is no glut and developers keep building. Moneyed foreigners snap them up at pre-selling prices because foreigners under Philippine law cannot buy a house and lot so condos are in for them. Popular places for sale and rental of condos and vacant house are in Paranaque and the reclamation area near where the casinos are located.

Abroad, foreigners are asked for their passports to determine their legal status as to whether they can rent for long-term leases. Diplomats are not exempted from this requirement. In Hungary and Poland where I was assigned as Philippine ambassador, I was asked to submit a copy of my passport to determine my legal immigration status. It should be the same in this country.

The Department of Labor and the Bureau of Immigration are now coordinating to contain the entry of foreign workers in the POGO program after negative media publicity. Because gambling is illegal in China, the Philippines has taken many of the Chinese clientele from Macau with Resorts World and Solaire casinos drawing the gambling-crazed Chinese from Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

The Philippines is an archipelago of more than 7,000 islands and to say we have porous borders would be understatement.

But let us not be too hospitable to a fault and make the country a doormat for undesirable aliens.

While the gaming industry is good for the Philippine economy, there are concerns that it could also pose a security problem with the entry of high-tech skilled foreigners.

This fear of foreign access to our sensitive security apparatus is now more vulnerable to tapping by foreign powers in light of our territorial dispute in the South China Sea.

Meanwhile, we are seeing a slight dissent among Cabinet members over the statements of the President. Foremost of this is the different view expressed by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on the possible joint oil exploration deal with China in the West Philippine Sea. Lorenzana thinks the Philippines must have a larger share of resources extracted from Philippine territory even if the Chinese would provide the capital and equipment for the exploration.

Of course, if the exploration is being done in Philippine territorial waters and our seabed!

Topics: Alejandro del Rosario , foreign workers , Department of Labor and Employment , Bureau of Immigration , Chinese workers , Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations , POGOs
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