Senate recommends crackdown on foreign illegal workers

Marje Pelayo   •   November 26, 2018   •   6091

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)

 

Senate approves measure raising statutory age of rape from 12 to 16

Marje Pelayo   •   September 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate of the Philippines on Monday (September 27) passed on third and final reading a proposed measure that seeks to raise the age of sexual consent from the current 12 to 16 years old.

The bill was proposed in a bid to protect young people from all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse.

With 22 affirmative votes, no negative vote and one abstention, the Senate approved Senate Bill 2332, or An Act Increasing the Age for Determining Statutory Rape and other Acts of Sexual Abuse and Exploitation to Protect Children.

It seeks to amend Republic Act 3815, or the Revised Penal Code, and RA 7610, also known as the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.

Under the bill, both men and women could be charged with statutory rape, and that the sexual orientation of the offender is not important.

During the period of interpellation on the bill, senators debated on the so-called “Romeo and Juliet” clause that would recognize “consensual” sexual activity between young couples if proven.

Senators later agreed that the exemption from criminal liability shall cover partners 16 year old and below, with age difference of not more than three years, but shall not apply if the victim is aged 13 and below.

In a 2015 National Baseline Study on Violence Against Children, one in every five children in the Philippines in the age group of 13 to 17 said they experienced sexual violence while one in 25 suffered from forced consummated sex during childhood.

Earlier, United Nations (UN) Philippines called on Congress to prioritize the measure increasing the age for determining the commission of statutory rape to below 16 years old from the current below 12 years old.

Senate panel questions P100B worth of unimplemented projects in 2021 budget

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Senate finance subcommittee on Wednesday (September 22) questioned the P100 billion-worth of unimplemented projects.

During Wednesday’s virtual hearing of the panel, Senator Nancy Binay questioned  the P100 billion worth of unimplemented projects due to the absence of clearance from the Office of the President (OP).

According to Binay, only about 30% of the Department of Public Works and Highways’  projects for  2021 have so far been implemented because there was no clearance from the OP.

“Nakakagulat kasi nga mag-o-October na in a few days and then may maririnig tayo na P100 billion worth of projects na alam natin can generate a lot of jobs na kailangan na kailangan natin ngayon pero hanggang ngayon hindi nga nai-implement ang mga programa na ito ” she said.

The said infrastructure projects were marked ‘For Later Release’ under the 2021 national budget and there is still no clearance from the OP.  The senators said the unused funds will return to the national treasury once the year ends.

Senator Miguel Zubiri urged the release of the funds which also include the budget for ‘Doktor Para sa Bayan Act’ which aims to provide medical scholarships. He also called for an executive session to discuss the issue.

“We all know that we need to have countryside development, and the only way to do countryside development is to push for medical scholarships, to push for this infrastructure programs,” he said.

The OP, meanwhile, the said budget would still need to be reviewed since it was not part of the original budget submitted under the 2021 National Expenditure Program.

“Many of these—because they are not in the NEP—have not gone through the usual vetting process of the agencies and so there’s that reason to place them in a category of their own, which warrants the imposition of special conditions for their release,” according to OP Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Michael Ong.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea assured that the release of the budget mentioned will be given priority.

“We will just look into it and see to it that this will be acted soonest,” he said. AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Villar, Pacquiao among billionaire senators in 2020

Marje Pelayo   •   September 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Cynthia Villar remains the richest senator based on the 2020 Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).

Based on the SALN released by the Senate of the Philippines, Villar has a net worth of P3.87 billion followed by boxing Senator Manny Pacquiao who has a net worth of P3.18 billion.

Meanwhile, detained Senator Leila de Lima ranked the poorest among senators with a net worth of P9.54 million.

The release of SALNs has been a practice to inform the public of the assets of government officials for transparency.

Though recently, Malacañang has been arguing against it saying President Rodrigo Duterte may opt not to release his SALN and leave the matter to the Office of the Ombudsman.

List of richest, poorest senators based on 2020 SALN:

Cynthia Villa P3,875,696,435
Manny Pacquiao – P3,187,092,600
Ralph Recto – P581,071,657
Juan Miguel Zubiri – P220,736,702
Ramon Revilla – P179,958,909
Juan Edgardo Angara – P150,898,358
Franklin Drilon – P106,862,853
Grace Poe – P101,327,620
Sherwin Gatchalian – 91,213,596
Vicente Sotto III – P85,643,477
Pia Cayetano – P84,891,678
Richard Gordon – P77,569,572
Manuel Lapid – P74,948,572
Francis Tolentino – P59,582,000
Nancy Binay – P59,770,251
Panfilo Lacson – P58,330,268
Aquilino Pimentel III – P37,203,400
Imee Marcos – P36,270,467
Ronald Dela Rosa – P34,383,136
Joel Villanueva – P33,029,725
Francis Pangilinan – P23,941,333
Christopher Lawrence Go – P22,274,508
Risa Hontiveros – P16,720, 359
Leila De Lima – P9,544,111

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