Senate recommends crackdown on foreign illegal workers

Marje Pelayo   •   November 26, 2018   •   4890

PASAY CITY, Philippines – The Senate has launched an investigation into the alleged growing number of illegal foreign workers in the country.

The Senate, in particular, is concerned about the growing number Chinese workers employed locally without proper documents especially in the National Capital Region (NCR) wherein their number has already reached up to around 200,000.

“Kapag umikot ka po dito sa NCR dun po sa BGC, sa eastwood, kung saan, tingin ko hindi lang 200,000,” observed Senator Joel Villanueva.

The senators are questioning the actions being taken by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in monitoring the activities of foreign workers especially those working illegally across the country.

The DOLE is the only agency that issues alien employment permit to foreigners applying for working visa at the Bureau of Immigration (BI).

According to the Senate, the DOLE should carefully screen all applications for special working permits especially those whose permits have already expired and are already overstaying.

“The policy issue I think, if they are still here beyond 6 months,” said DOLE Usec. Ciriaco Lagunzad.

The BI reports that there are around 119,000 foreigners already issued with special work permits. The agency admits that most of these numbers are Chinese nationals.

“Most of them are Chinese and they are work for POGO (Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators),” confirmed Atty. Homer Arellano, Chief for Prosecution and Legal Assistance, BI.

The lawmakers also are looking into the scheme of illegal workers where they use a tourist visa to enter the country then find a job afterwards.

Based on BI’s records, there are around 1.6M people were granted Chinese Tourist visa for this year.

Senator Grace Poe said her colleagues in the Senate all agree on a crackdown against illegal Chinese and other foreign workers.

“Kailagan talaga magkaroon ng crackdown. Sinabi nga ng commitee na ito na proactively… puntahan itong mga sites na ito, hingan sila talaga ng work permit kasi national security issue rin yan,” Poe said.

The BI admits they are lacking in personnel who will do the inspection. Overall, BI only has 80 inspectors deployed across the country.

The DOLE said such matter should be among the priority of the government next year. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

 

No solid evidence yet to charge BuCor officials in GCTA controversy — Lacson

Marje Pelayo   •   September 18, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate of the Philippines has not found any strong evidence yet linking officials of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) to the alleged anomalous implementation of the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) Law.

Senator Panfilo Lacson believes they still need more proof aside from the testimonials of the witnesses that appeared at the Senate inquiry in order for the Senate to recommend the filing of charges against the involved BuCor officials.

“Not only Director General Faeldon pero ang ibang dapat mahagip, sinoman ang i-recommend for criminal liability (Not only Director General Faeldon but everyone else that should be recommended for criminal liability),” Lacson said.

“We need solid evidence to even consider recommending filing criminal charges against them,” he added.

Lacson said there was supposedly a group of alleged officials of the agency who expressed their intention to speak up of what they know about the controversial implementation of the GCTA Law.

After some time, however, the said officials changed their minds and withdrew.

“I hope they will have a change of mind, change of heart and finally decide to tell all during the next hearing,” Senator Lacson said.

During the continuation of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on Thursday, the Senate invited to attend several personalities including former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre and Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong who formerly served as Chief of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).

Several senators already expressed agreement in giving chance to detained Senator Leila de Lima to defend herself at the Senate hearing after her name was again dragged into the controversy for allegedly receiving money from drug lords inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

“Yes, she should be given an opportunity,” expressed Senator Franklin Drilon.

Meanwhile, three BuCor officials remained locked up inside the Senate after they were charged in contempt for ling before the Senate Committee. – MNP (with details from Grace Casin)

Sotto on GCTA hearing: More witnesses will be presented

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 11, 2019

Senate President Vicente Sotto III

Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Wednesday (September 11) said more witnesses on the controversial good conduct time allowance (GCTA) will be presented at the Senate hearing on Thursday (September 12).

Four to five new witnesses might testify during the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing tomorrow.

According to Sotto, these are former inmates and employees of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor). Their testimonies will center on the GCTA and “hospital pass for sale” issue.

“I signed seven subpoenas which include subpoena duces tecum, but personalities will be presented tomorrow,” he said.

Meanwhile, the calls and messages from Elvira Sanchez have been retrieved. Sanchez is the common law wife of former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez.

The Senate is also seeking the assistance of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to identify who texted Elvira that her husband will be released.

In a previous hearing, Ms. Sanchez already said she did not know who texted and called her.

“Ang trace nila galing sa loob, (The trace came from the inside). It was a text from an inmate. As a matter of fact hindi lang text (it’s not just a text). Hindi accurate iyong sinabi ni Ms. Sanchez, [may] tawag, (Ms. Sanchez’s statement was not accurate, there was also a call)” according to Sotto.—AAC (with reports from Grace Casin)

Zubiri calls for Alcatraz-like prisons for heinous crime convicts

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 4, 2019

Senator Miguel Zubiri

Senator Miguel Zubiri has filed Senate Bill 1004 to establish a separate prison facility across the region for heinous crime convicts.

Zubiri filed the said bill in the wake of the near release of former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez.

He said, “Heinous crime convicts and high-risk prisoners belong to maximum security prisons in isolated and uninhabited islands, far from their victims and society at large.”

Zubiri also lamented that while jails keep society safe and punish criminals by restricting their liberty, Sanchez was living luxuriously and still enjoys privileges as proven by actual videos taken at the New Bilibid Prison.

The senator proposed the establishment of Heinous Crimes Penitentiary (HCP). Based on the proposed Senate bill, inmates from the New Bilibid Prison and other Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) jails should be transferred to HCP facilities a year after its establishment.

“Convicts like Mayor Sanchez belong to the proposed Heinous Crimes Penitentiary to be run by the Bureau of Corrections. I propose that personnel of the Bureau build and operate several HCP facilities in several regions to be identified by the Secretary of Justice,” he said.

The Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary was a maximum federal facility located on an island in California, United States. It housed the most dangerous criminals in the US. The facility operated from August 11, 1934, until March 21, 1963.—AAC (with reports from Grace Casin)

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