Thousands of Chinese “tourists” are working in the Philippines by paying a modest P5,000 fee to get a special permit from the Bureau of Immigration.
Senator Joel Villanueva revealed that the BI had granted 185,00 special permits in the first 11 months of 2018.
He said this was nearly double the 115,652 alien employment permits (AEPs) from 2015 to 2017 issued by the Department of Labor and Employment which has a more approval process.
“Only the Dole has the capability to assess whether foreigners seeking to work in the Philippines could be allowed to do so. Clearly, the BI went a step too far in issuing its special working permits,” said Vilanueva who was concerned that the thousands of Chinese workers were taking away jobs from Filipinos.
Villanueva said the BI’s lax issuance of work permits benfit mostly the thousands of Chinese working for Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) or on-line casinos that cater to Chinese gamblers.
He said the P5,000 special fee charged to Chinese workers was 30 percent lower than the regular fee of P6,400.
In a budget hearing in the Senate, Villanueva claimed that the BI does not issue receipts for the “guaranteed one day release” of thousands of working permits at the bureau’s satellite office in Taguig City.
Villanueva estimated that the BI had amassed up to P925 million from the quick release permits to Chinese POGO workers.
“Even if 40 percent of the applicants sought to have their permits expedited, this is still a big amount. Where did this go?” said Villanueva.
Villanueva earlier revealed that at least 119,000 tourists, mostly from mainland China, have been given been given special working permits in the country in violation of the country’s labor rules. Villanueva has proposed that the DOLE take full control of the grant of special permits for aliens working less than six months in the country by mandating the BI to coordinate with the DOLE before granting any special permits.