Government now limits length of stay of foreign workers in PH

Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 11 2019 06:08 PM

MANILA - The Philippine government now limits the length of stay of foreigners working in the country with special working permits, as it starts to enforce stricter rules of employment on foreign nationals. 

This is part of the government's intensified campaign against illegal aliens working in the country.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said special work permits for foreign workers are not anymore renewable.

“Under the current policy, ang issuance po ng special work permit ay one time na lamang po (the issuance of special work permits is just for one time), non-extendable, maximum of six months,” said Dominique Rubia-Tutay of DOLE's Bureau of Local Employment.

Tutay said the foreign worker also has to submit a list of his activities before a special work permit could be issued.

The labor department, together with other government agencies, signed on Thursday a Joint Memorandum Circular which would require foreigners intending to work in the Philippines to a more rigid and strict employment process.

Aside from limited special work permits, all foreign workers are now required to get a Tax Identification Number or TIN from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). 

“Anybody working in the Philippines has to pay taxes, just as Filipinos who are working abroad pay taxes, it is a matter of following the law and fairness to our people,” said Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez.

Dominguez said the government may be able to collect an estimated P2.5 billion in taxes every month from around 138,000 foreign workers in the country.

But before any business or establishment employs a foreign worker, it has to get a “Certification of No Objection” from DOLE.

Tutay said if there are objections in hiring the foreign worker, the position will undergo a labor market test.

Foreign workers will also have to get a “Certificate of No Derogatory Information” from the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency. 

DOLE said this is to address President Rodrigo Duterte’s concern that a foreigner may be a threat to national security.

The foreign worker will also be subject to an inspection by the Immigration Bureau, the BIR and DOLE.

“Mas marami kami mahuhuli ngayon na illegal (Now we will be able to catch more illegal workers),” said Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the joint memo comes at a time when reports of untaxed and unregistered foreign workers have been proliferating in the country. 

“We expect that all foreign workers in our country would be clarified as to the rules and regulations,” Guevarra said.

“Any serious violation of these employment rules and regulations and of immigration rules will carry immediate deportation,” Guevarra said.

The BIR said this was borne out of the influx of workers in online gaming companies that mostly employ Chinese workers.

“BIR is running after this online gaming. We are having difficulty and challenges in these foreign workers,” said BIR Deputy Commissioner Arnel Guballa.

DOLE records show there are about 138,000 foreign nationals working in the country, of which 63,000 are working in more than 50 operators of online gaming sites. About 80 percent of this figure are Chinese nationals.