DOLE to probe Chinese nationals working without permit

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The Labor Department will investigate reports of a significant rise in Chinese nationals working in the country contrary to official records. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 27) — Labor officials will investigate Chinese nationals allegedly working without permits.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello said they have received reports of a significant number of Chinese workers in the country, in contrast to official entries.

Senator Franklin Drilon said there are around 400,000 foreign workers in Metro Manila, but Bello said only 115,000 were granted Alien Employment Permits (AEP).

According to DOLE records, 51,980 permits were issued to Chinese nationals since 2015, including 24,000 given in 2017.

"On the reports of the increasing number of Chinese workers we agree with the observation that there may be more of them in the country considering that we issued alien employment permits to only close to 24,000 last year for a total 51,980 since year 2015," Bello told the media Thursday.

The Labor chief said DOLE is not the only agency that issues work permits for foreigners. He cited the Immigration Bureau that issues work visas and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for permits to those in the mining industry.

"Please note that the Department of Labor is not the only permit-issuing agency. It is therefore possible that a significant number of Chinese nationals working here are working without permit," he said.

"We are strengthening our enforcement mechanism inspection of work places to check on these illegals," he added.

Bello said they will inspect compliance on the part of companies as well as their own regional offices over work permits issued to foreign nationals.

"We committed to the committee particularly to Senator Joey Villanueva that we would furnish them copies of AEPs issued by our different regional offices and before that we will validate the issuance of these AEPs," he said.

Bello said AEPs are issued to foreigners whose skills are not available locally.

"Binibigyan namin sila permit to work pero ang bibigyan lang namin ang 'yung pagtatrabaho ng isang klaseng trabaho na hindi kaya ng Pilipino. Kung may mga Pilipino na kayang gawin trabahong 'yun hindi namin ibibigay 'yung alien employment permit," he said.

[Translation: We give them permits to work but only to those who can perform jobs that Filipinos are not able to perform. If a Filipino can do their job then we will not give them an alien employment permit.]