DOLE to issue new guidelines on foreign workers

By Erma Edera

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will soon issue new guidelines on allowing foreign workers in the country.

Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III, in a press briefing for the Philippine media delegation at the Orchard Hotel in Singapore on April 27, 2018, announces that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is set to reveal a course of action on the issue concerning the migrant workers in Kuwait. (ROBINSON NIÑAL JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

“This will all be addressed when we release a memorandum or guidelines governing the entry of foreign workers. It’s not about the nature of the job, it’s whether the job can be done by Filipinos,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello said on Wednesday.

He also disclosed the plan following the submission of the list of foreign workers employed by Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO), and those working without the required Special Working Permit (SWP) or Alien Employment Permit (AEP) from the department.

Bello said before a foreign worker can be issued with Alien Employment Permit (AEP), the applicant should first secure a tax identification number (TIN) from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to ensure they pay proper taxes under the law.

He will also conduct strict monitoring of the foreign workers and they will require more DOLE personnel to validate the list of workers submitted by the companies who were given license to operate POGOs.

The labor secretary asked Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez to hire 5,000 additional labor laws compliance officers (LLCO’s) to supplement the monitoring workforce for foreign workers and private establishments in the country.

Dominguez said the hiring of additional labor inspectors will cost around P2.5 billion pesos. However, the government is expected to collect around P22 to P40 billion taxes from the said foreign workers in the Philippines.

“Considering the numbers involved, we need additional LLCO’s and he (Finance Secretary Dominguez) said, how many do you need? I said, ideally we need 5,000, then they computed and said it will cost about P2.5 billion but it will also result in tax collection of about P22 to P40 billion pesos, so he said go,” Bello explained.

The department has 800 labor inspectors who are tasked to ensure compliance to general labor standards in private companies throughout the country.

“As soon as we receive the positions, we will deploy them immediately. Talks are on-going. We will make representation with the DOF and DBM,” the labor chief explained.

Last week, an interagency committee reviewed a list of foreign workers and their job description submitted by POGOs.