Labor chief seeks wider authority over foreign workers

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 02 2019 12:31 PM

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA – Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Thursday his office should be given more powers to address the influx of illegal foreign workers in the country.

The labor department should have the power to raise fines for illegal workers to P100,000 from P10,000 and cancel or suspend the franchise of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators or POGOs that employ foreign nationals without an Alien Employment Permits, Bello told DZMM radio. 

Watch more in iWant or TFC.tv

Bello said POGOs are currently governed by an executive order signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2017.

"Kaya dapat medyo palakasin ang aming punitive power na hindi lamang 10,000 dapat P100,000. Tsaka dapat may power kami [we should have the power] to suspend and cancel the franchise of POGO operators who is allowing workers without permit," Bello said. 

(Our punitive powers should be enhanced. It [fines] shouldn't be just P10,000, it should be P100,000)

"Kung maari ibigay sa amin ang power pero sa ngayon wala pa," he said.

(We should be given more powers, if possible. As of now, we have none.)

The Department of Labor and Employment together with the Bureau of Immigration, Department of Justice and the Bureau of Internal Revenue on Wednesday signed joint guidelines to tighten the issuance of work permits for foreign nationals. 

Effective May 1, only foreign workers with Tax Identification Numbers (TIN) will be given work permits by the labor department, Bello said. 

The Department of Finance earlier estimated that the government was losing about P22 billion annually from unpaid income taxes of illegal foreign workers in POGOs alone.