Villanueva: New provision in GAA to strip BI of power to issue SWPs
MANILA, Philippines — Once President Rodrigo Duterte signs the 2019 budget, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) will stop issuing special working permits (SWPs) to foreigners, Senator Joel Villanueva said Thursday.
Villanueva said legislators included a provision in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) wherein the BI is ordered to cease the issuance of SWPs to foreigners seeking to land a job in the country.
The SWPs are given to foreign nationals who wish to work in the country for three to six months.
“Mismong yung GAA na pipirmahan ng ating Pangulo, tayo mismo ay naglagay ng provision doon sa budget na hindi na pu-puwedeng mag-issue ang Bureau of Immigration ng special working permit,” Villanueva told reporters in an interview.
(In the exact GAA that the President will sign, we placed a provision there in the budget that the Bureau of Immigration will no longer issue special working permit.)
He explained that the immigration bureau doesn’t have the capacity to “vet” the available jobs in the market whether it could be given to foreigners if and when it could not be filled in by Filipinos.
“Wala ho silang kapasidad bilang ahensya na i-vet na ito ba ay pu-pwedeng ibigay sa banyaga sapagkat ‘di kayang punan ng ating mga kababayan,” the senator added.
(As an agency, it does not have the capacity to vet whether these jobs can be given to foreigners if they cannot be filled in by our countrymen.)
“Wala ho silang kapasidad to vet these job posts na available in the market,” Villanueva added.
However, while the GAA is waiting for the President’s signature, the BI has implemented supplemental guidelines to ensure that SWPs will be given only to deserving foreigners, Villanueva said.
“Hihintayin nila itong budget sa pagpirma ng ating Pangulo, for the meantime, they were saying na nagkaroon sila ng supplemental guidelines as to how they will be able to ensure that these SWPs will be given doon sa mga karapat dapat,” he said.
The senator’s statements were made in the sidelines of the Senate committee on labor, employment and human resources development’s probe on the influx of illegal foreign workers, mostly Chinese nationals, in the country.
He cited his experience at a certain mall where he was told that he could obtain a SWP within the day with the payment of P5,000.
He reiterated that it should be the Department of Labor and Employment that should issue working permits to foreigners, particularly the Alien Employment Permits (AEPs).
During the hearing, it was raised that DOLE has issued only 169,893 AEPs from 2015 to 2018 while the BI was able to issue 185,000 working permits within a period of 11 months in 2018. /jpv
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