Senator Joel Villanueva welcomed the filing of administrative and criminal charges against Bureau of Immigration (BI) personnel who allegedly facilitated the entry of illegal foreign workers who were eventually employed by Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGO) firms.

Villanueva lamented that the surge of illegal foreign workers in the country had been enabled by no less than BI personnel who are primarily tasked to scrutinize the entry and exit of individuals at ports.

“We trust that the NBI would continue to pursue this case.”

“Nakakahinayang po talaga na kung sino pa ang nagbabantay ng ating mga border, sila pa ang kauna-unahang masasangkot sa pagpapalusot ng mga iligal na manggagawa. Magandang balita po itong pagsasampa ng kaso sa mga immigration personnel sa ating laban para itigil ang pagpasok ng iligal na manggagawa, at umaasa tayong tututukan ito ng ating NBI (We regret the fact that the people who patrol our borders are the same people who are behind the scheme of allowing illegal foreign workers to slip through. The filing of charges against immigration personnel is a welcome development in our fight to stop the entry of illegal foreign workers, and we trust that the NBI would continue to pursue this case),” the veteran legislator said.

“Hinihiling po natin sa pamunuan ng BI na palakasin pa ang kanilang counter-intelligence upang linisin ang kanilang hanay sa mga tiwaling tauhan (We also call on the BI to continue its counter-intelligence to cleanse its ranks),” the seasoned lawmaker added.

“Our immigration personnel should be really circumspect about the people they allow to enter because they might be allowing individuals with criminal intentions, and this creates problems with our law enforcement as we have been showing in our public inquiries,” pointed out the chair of the Senate labor committee.

“Effective border control should help law enforcement agencies from deterring crimes.”

The senator reiterated that effective border control should help law enforcement agencies from deterring crimes such as human trafficking and other related issues.

The inquiry into the influx of illegal foreign workers, which Villanueva has been pursuing, established that POGOs are the ultimate destination of these individuals. Data from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) showed that 6,678 foreigners had been employed at POGOs without securing an alien employment permit.

He earlier uncovered a scheme at a BI satellite office where personnel there issued special work permits to foreigners within hours for an “unreceipted” fee of P5,000. The BI leadership sacked the entire staff manning the satellite office after an internal investigation confirmed the racket.

Villanueva also introduced a bill to amend Labor Code provisions mandating understudy program in companies employing foreign nationals to facilitate transfer of skills and know-how to Filipino workers. Senate Bill No. 1778, which is up for plenary debates, explicitly states that non-resident foreign aliens seeking employment in the country must obtain an alien employment permit from the DOLE.

He urged the NBI and other law enforcement agencies to continue their efforts in hunting down illegal foreign workers.

The BI personnel were tagged as behind the so-called “pastillas” racket where grease money amounting to P10,000 wrapped in white paper were paid to them to facilitate the express entry of foreigners who were going to work at POGO firms.


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