Gov't agencies sign joint memorandum circular for foreigners wishing to work
Foreign workers who will not follow the rules set by the government might face deportation, according to Justice Secretary Menardo Gueverra.
Officials from different government agencies on Thursday signed a joint memorandum circular for rules and procedures for foreigners intending to work in the Philippines.
The ceremonial signing held at Intramuros, Manila was led by the departments of labor, finance and justice with other concerned agencies.
“The signing of this JMC (joint memorandum circular), in my opinion has become urgent necessity. Almost on a daily basis we heard comments about the proliferation of so many foreign nationals working in our country and many of them are untax and unregistered,” Guevarra said in his statement.
“So henceforth, now that this has become clear, the implementation and the enforcement of the necessary employment and immigration regulations will have to become stricter. And on the part of the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Immigration, any violation, serious violation that will fall off this employment rules and regulations and immigration's rules as well will merit to immediate deportation,” he said.
According to the Department of Labor and Employment, around 7,000 foreign POGO (Philippine Offshore and Gaming Operators (POGO) workers who failed to apply for Alien Employment Permit (AEP) last June will be submitted to the Bureau of Immigration.
“(The number are) only POGOs. That’s why Secretary Carlos Domiguez III and Secretary Silvestre Bello III have an instruction that there should be a joint inspection team because what we have (gathered are) mostly POGOs located in NCR (National Capital Region) but there are other locators outside Metro Manila (that) we are monitoring,” Bureau of Local Employment Director Dominique Tutay said in an interview with reporters.
Tutay said the immigration may check the list they will provide as some may not apply for the AEP but will try to extend their special working permit.
“The number of (workers to be deported) might increase but we are already coordinating with the different economic zones because mostly foreign workers are located there,” she added.
Tutay added that based on their data for 2018, the labor department issued AEPs to around 55,000 foreign workers.
“If we are going to aggregate the last three years, it will reach around 130,000,” she said.
Tutay could not say how many illegal foreign workers are in the country.
Under the JMC, the labor department can find out the number of foreign nationals from other concerned agencies.
“After almost three years, the Joint Memorandum Circular on the Rules and Procedures Governing the Foreign Nationals Intending to Work in the Philippines is now signed. The last six months has been critical in the finalization of this policy,” she said.
Tutay said the JMC provides two options for foreign nationals.
One is to secure a working visa while in the Philippines and the other is secure a working visa at the Philippine embassy or consular post prior to entry to the country.
“Prior to the signing of JMC, the people already know that we will release this and the application for AEP picked up in regional offices by 60 to 70 percent compared to first quarter of last year,” she said.
According to the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Domniguez decided to invite other agencies to help them in running after POGO workers.
“The Secretary mentioned that the DOF and BIR cannot do it alone. That’s why we have a formal creation of this inter-agency task force,” BIR Deputy Commissioner Arnel Guballa said.
“So with this JMC any foreign worker now who will work in the Philippines will be required by the immigration to apply a TIN (Tax Identification Number) at BIR before they give a permit,” he added.
Labor Undersecretary Renato Ebarle said one of the special features of the JMC is securing a “Certificate of No Objection” from the agency before issuance of permits, visas and authorities with exception of the DOJ’s Authority to Issue Alien Employment Permit by the virtue of the Anti-Dummy Law and Immigration’s Special Work Permit.
“We comply with the instruction of the president (Rodrigo Duterte) that the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency should vet the applicant before we issue the Certificate of No Objection because we want to be sure that the applicant interested will not be a security threat,” he said.
For his part, Bello assured the public that through this JMC, Filipinos will be secure with their jobs.
“One is that there will be no Filipino deprived of his work because of the entry of foreign nationals and second, revenue collection of BIR will increase because they will not be given a permit if they will not pay tax. So for me that’s the most important objectives of the JMC,” he said.
Bello also said once a Filipino made an “objection” on a foreign applicant because the Filipino is capable of doing the job, they can reject the application of the foreign worker.
He said the employer cannot fire the foreign worker if they issued a permit.
“It (permit) has a life span. It will be our fault because we should have checked the notification that somebody is applying or interested, or has qualification. Then we will not allow the foreigner to be given an AEP,” Bello explained.
Bello said they will strengthen their inspections so they can arrest more illegal workers and they will be the “tax collector” of BIR. Ella Dionisio/DMS