The Department of Labor and Employment said Friday it will not issue alien employment permits to foreigners wanting to work in the Philippines unless they secure a work visa from their country of origin.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the department is drafting a new memorandum to stem the influx of foreign workers.
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Silvestre observed that most of the foreign workers entered the country under a tourist visa and were allowed to work after securing an AEP from the DOLE or a special working permit or provisionary working permit from the Bureau of Immigration.
This would no longer be allowed, he said, as foreigners seeking to work here must obtain work visas in Philippine consulates or the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices abroad before they can come here for employment.
Bello said that the new memorandum will be released before March 15.
On Thursday, visiting Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad warned the Philippines against letting in foreigners who could “disturb” the country’s domestic political stability.
At least 200,000 Chinese have flocked to Manila since Duterte’s 2016 election, many of them employed by online gaming firms that cater to Chinese players, a Senate inquiry was told late last year.
Some Filipino politicians have alleged this drives up property prices, takes away jobs from locals and even affects tax revenues.
Mahathir, who has suspended several of his nation’s major projects with China, warned during an official visit to the Philippines against allowing a surge of foreigners.
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“Foreign direct investment should not involve bringing huge numbers of foreigners to live in the country, because that might disturb the political equations in the country,” Mahathir told ANC in an interview.
“If huge numbers of any foreigners [come] to live and stay in the country… you have to do some rethinking as to whether it is good or bad, or the limits that you have to impose on them,” Mahathir said.
The DOLE, meanwhile, came under fire from the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines for a proposal to limit the number of Filipino construction workers working abroad as a way of dealing with a shortage of skills in the construction industry here.
“Setting a limit on the number of construction workers to work abroad will only widen and worsen our problem. We actually do not have problem on construction workers. In fact, we have a surplus of construction workers. Our main problem is: We have a shortage of trained and certified construction workers because wages are low, benefits are meager, and working conditions are highly substandard,” TUCP president Raymond Mendoza said in a statement.
He said limiting the number of construction workers allowed to work abroad will only compel workers to go underground using backdoor schemes to work abroad because salary, benefits and working conditions there are far better than what they get here.
“Once they go underground, they will become undocumented and illegal workers abroad hiding from the law. This is highly problematic,” Mendoza said.
He said the real solution to the problem on a shortage of certified skills in construction is to improve the way the government treats them by raising the salary, benefits and working conditions so that they will no longer aspire to work abroad.
The government’s assessment, training, and certification of skills must step up and be made more accessible and affordable for workers, he added.
“The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority must conduct more assessment, training and skills certification even on Saturdays and Sundays and even on holidays, conduct these even in worksites to increase the pool of skill-certified construction workers. TESDA must also accredit private institutions to facilitate certification,” Mendoza said.
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