DOLE requests “punitive authority” to penalize illegal foreign workers
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) seeks to penalize companies in the Philippines hiring illegal foreign workers to ensure that only foreigners with valid work permits remain in the Philippines for such purpose.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III asked Congress to give DOLE “punitive authority” to suspend or cancel permits and impose higher penalties on companies found hiring illegal foreign workers. This follows from the government’s completion of a new set of rules to combat illegal work migrants owing to concerns on tax evasion and dwindling job opportunities for Filipinos.
“If I will be asked, I would recommend to Congress that they give DOLE the authority to suspend or cancel the license of any company hiring illegal workers,” Bello said.
Extra measures required to combat erring companies
Bello states that DOLE could only recommend, at present, to the Bureau of Immigration (BI) the deportation and blacklisting of foreigners who are found illegally working in the Philippines. This leaves companies hiring illegal foreign workers unaccounted. Another problem DOLE currently faces is the lack of manpower to address the ongoing problem of illegal foreign workers in the country.
“In the meantime, employers go scot free so what Congress should do is give DOLE authority to either suspend or cancel the license of any employer hiring illegal workers,” Bello said.
Besides the recommendation of deportation and blacklisting to BI, DOLE’s only authority is to charge a minimum fine of P10,000 per illegal worker in the company. “Wala ‘yun. Hindi mabisa yun, [That’s nothing. It’s not effective],” he added. Bello also proposed to charge erring companies with P100,000 for each illegal foreign laborer hired by any company or business in the Philippines.
According to Bello, a high-level interagency government committee initiated by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III created a new framework for the issuance of Alien Employment Permits (AEP) and Special Working Permits (SWP) for foreigners seeking to work in the Philippines. Foreigners must obtain a tax identification number (TIN) before they can get an AEP from DOLE.
This framework ensures that foreign laborers are paying the appropriate amount of taxes to the government to address Secretary Dominguez’ concerns over tax leakages. It will also clarify the list of job opportunities open for legitimate foreign laborers in the Philippines.
“DOLE should be given enough teeth to be able to bite,” he added.