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Nograles asks Senate to prioritize law regulating foreign labor

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By Ellson Quismorio 

Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) Party-List Rep. Jericho Nograles is asking the Senate to fast track a proposed law that would protect Filipino labor, and strengthen regulations on the employment of foreign nationals.

Nograles said he and his brother, former Davao City 1st district Rep. Karlo Nograles, who is now Cabinet Secretary, authored House Bill (HB) no. 277, and subsequently HB no. 8368 which seeks to amend Articles 40, 41 and 42 of Title II, Book 1 of Presidential Decree (PD) no. 442, otherwise known as the “Labor Code of the Philippines”
If enacted into law, the measure will promote stricter rules on the employment foreign nationals.

And with the increasing public sentiment against the influx of foreign nationals in the country’s labor force, Nograles said that the senators should prioritize passage of the proposed law.

“There will be strict implementation and harsh penalties for those who will employ foreigners first before Filipinos. That is my proposal,” said Nograles, who serves as caretaker of the legislative districts of Davao (1st district) and Sulu (1st district).

According to the Party-List solon, the measure has already been approved on third and final reading in the House of Representatives last November 11, 2018 and transmitted to the Senate for action on November 27, 2018.

“The influx of laborers will increase if we do not pass laws protecting the Filipino laborer. We still have time if the Senate fast tracks the passage of the Bill,” he said, noting that Congress will resume sessions shortly after the May 13 midterm polls.

LMT approach

HB no. 8368 seeks to adopt the Labor Market Test (LMT) as basis in determining non-availability of a qualified and willing Filipino national to do services, for which the foreign national is being hired.

This means that before hiring a foreign national for a certain job posting, an employer must advertise the position and review resumes for more than 30 days, but less than 180 days, prior to filing the application to ensure that there are no other qualified local workers available.

“They have to open the position to Pinoy applicants first and only hire foreign nationals if none of the applicants are qualified for the position,” Nograles said.

The bill also mandates that foreign nationals, who are issued employment permits, shall transfer their skills and technology to Filipino understudies within a prescribed period.

Moreover, the bill increases fines and penalties for violations by foreign nationals and their employers to deter transgressions.

Any foreign national and his employer, who violate Articles 289 and 290 of the Labor Code, shall pay a fine of P50,000 to P100,000 or suffer imprisonment of six months to six years, or both, at the discretion of the court. In addition, the alien worker shall be deported after serving his sentence.

The Secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) shall impose a fine of P50,000 for every year of fraction thereof to both the foreign national found working without valid employment permit and his employer.

All non-resident foreign nationals seeking employment in the Philippines shall obtain an employment permit from the DOLE. An employment permit may be issued to a non-resident foreign national subject to an LMT based on the non-availability of qualified and willing Filipino nationals.

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