By Genalyn Kabiling
BEIJING — Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has asked Congress to give the labor department the “punitive authority” to suspend or cancel permits of erring companies and impose higher penalties on them for hiring illegal foreign workers in the country.
Bello said this is to help ensure that only foreigners with works permits are working in the country.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is seeking “more teeth” to impose higher penalties, such as P100,000 fine for every illegal foreign worker hired.
At present, Bello said the labor department can only recommend to the Bureau of Immigration the deportation and blacklisting of foreigners illegally working in the country.
“If I will be asked, I would recommend to Congress that they give DOLE the authority to suspend or cancel the license of any company hiring illegal workers,” Bello said in an interview with reporters in Beijing over the weekend.
“DOLE should be given enough teeth to be able to bite,” he added.
Bello has also proposed to slap P100,000 fine for every foreigner illegally working in a company, higher than the current fine of P10,000, to curb such illegal hiring of workers.
“Now, our only authority is to impose a fine of P10,000 per worker. Wala ‘yun. Hindi mabisa yun, [That’s nothing. It’s not effective],” he said.
Apart from seeking punitive authority, Bello said they have also requested the hiring of additional 5,000 labor inspectors to monitor business establishments across the country.
He said they currently have 800 labor law compliance officers keeping tabs on 900,000 business establishments.
Bello said the interagency task force will soon issue guidelines on the alien employment permits (AEP) and other special working permits for foreign workers.
Any foreign worker will be required to get tax identification number from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to ensure proper payment of taxes, among others.
“We give an AEP to any foreigner if the work that they will do in the Philippines cannot be done by Filipinos or if it can be done but no Filipino would want to do it,” he said.
Bello made the remarks after some groups raised concern over the influx of foreign workers, particularly those from China, in offshore gaming activities in the country.