There may be a lot of illegally-working foreigners out there – Labor Chief

By Leslie Ann Aquino

The prospect of having a significant number of foreigners illegally working in the country has alarmed the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Speaking to media earlier today, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello revealed that the DOLE has issued Alien Employment Permits (AEPs) to only 115,000 foreigners.

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretay Silvestre Bello III speaks during the ASEAN  Labor Ministers' Retreat in Davao City. (Keith Bacongco) Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretay Silvestre Bello III. (Keith Bacongco)

“DOLE is bothered by the report of increasing number of foreign workers in the country. Whether it is true or not, the only thing we are certain is that there are only around 115,000 foreign workers with Alien Employment Permit issued by DOLE regional directors,” Bello said.

Based on the latest data of the Bureau of Local Employment, there are 115,652 foreign nationals that were issued with AEPs, of which 51,980 are Chinese; 12,177, Japanese; and 11,780 Koreans.

Their permit to work in the country is only for a three-year period from 2015 to 2017.

Bello said it is possible that the other foreign nationals currently working in the country might not have valid alien permits.

“DOLE checks on the illegals and further validates the issuance of AEPs to the foreign workers, to check the nature of their work, particularly if the field of expertise can be done by a Filipino,” he said.

Bello also clarified that DOLE is not the only permit-issuing agency that allows foreign nationals to work in the country.

Other agencies that issue working permit to foreign workers include the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for the geoscience and mining industry; the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) for the practice of regulated professions; the Department of Justice (DOJ) for nationalized or partially nationalized industries; and the Bureau of Immigration, for the pre-arranged employment visa or 9G.

Earlier, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon has claimed there are around 400,000 foreigners working in Metro Manila.