DFA chief blames labor attaché for US ban on work visas

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 24 2019 09:06 AM | Updated as of Jan 24 2019 09:07 AM

The country’s top diplomat is blaming a Philippine labor attaché for the US government's decision to remove Filipinos’ eligibility to obtain H-2A and H-2B work visas for 1 year.

Asked for his opinion on the US ban, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. revealed that a female Philippine labor attaché questioned the release of the visas.

"One of our labor attaches questioned such visas so I guess we got what we asked for," he said in his Twitter account.

He added: "Thank you to the labor attache who denounced work/study J1 visas as slavery. She started the halls rolling. Salamat on behalf of Filipinos who won’t be allowed into the US anymore. Good work. S*t."

The United States Department of Homeland Security earlier said it banned Filipinos from obtaining H-2A visas for foreign agricultural workers and H-2B visas for non-agriculture workers due to “severe” overstaying and human trafficking concerns.

“Nearly 40 percent of H-2B visa holders from the Philippines overstayed their period of authorized stay,” the US Federal Register said in a statement, citing data from 2017.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo has said the Palace respects the US decision, but may appeal it should its enforcement be marred with unjust practices.

"If that is the law in the US, and there are violations, then we will need to respect. We will only react if our workers are being mistreated, maltreated," Panelo said in a Palace press briefing.

"We need to know whether there is basis for the decision. If there is none, we can ask for reconsideration," he said.

The DFA said Filipinos abroad must "follow immigration rules and avoid staying beyond what is allowed in their visas."