Inter-agency pact to regulate Chinese POGO workers: DOJ

MANILA Government agencies will be working more closely with each other to regulate and prevent legal lapses in the employment of Chinese workers in the Philippines.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told newsmen Wednesday that an inter-agency agreement will be signed shortly to craft a system within existing laws on possible actions to be taken under a Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC).

These actions include the summary deportation of foreign workers without work permits or in case of tax law violations.

"Appropriate sanctions, including summary deportation, shall be imposed upon foreign workers who shall willfully violate the provisions of the JMC, including non-registration for tax purposes," Guevarra said.

"Foreign workers employed in POGOs, particularly Chinese nationals, will be covered by this JMC," Guevarra said referring to Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGO) which allow Chinese nationals to gamble. Estimates place around 150,000 workers working in 50 gaming firms.

Signatories to the JMC include the Department of Justice and Bureau of Immigration with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Environment and Natural Resources and National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA).

This issue can be addressed in a faster way without amending the law. It's not a question of which agency should be solely responsible for the issuance of SWPs (Special Work Permits). The issue is how to tighten up the rules on SWPs. The BI and DOLE only need to work together on this, he explained.

The problem really is how to monitor the movement of each and every foreign worker after the expiration of his/her SWP issued by the BI or the long-term alien employment permit (AEPs) issued by the DOLE. That requires a lot of intelligence resources so we can control the number at the outset or from their entry here, he said.

An SWP allows foreign nationals to work in the country for three months and could be extended for another three months. For periods longer than six months and for highly technical, specialized, supervisory and managerial jobs that cannot be fulfilled by Filipinos, foreigners are given AEPs by the DOLE. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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