Yamsuan Source: PNA file photo

Yamsuan seeks stiffer penalties vs illegal foreign workers

June 11, 2024 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 136 views

BICOL Saro Partylist Rep. Brian Raymund Yamsuan pn Tuesday said he wants foreigners working illegally in the country to suffer harsher penalties, including imprisonment of up to six years and a substantial increase on the fine imposed on them–from the current P10,000 to P50,000 for every year of unlawful employment.

Yamsuan has sought the approval of House Bill (HB) 1279, which contains these tough provisions against the illegal employment of aliens, following the arrest last week of 37 Chinese nationals for allegedly running illicit retail and restaurant operations in Parañaque City.

Senators have also filed a resolution seeking an investigation into complaints by several Multinational Village homeowners in the city’s Barangay Moonwalk about the influx in their subdivision of Chinese nationals suspected of being involved in illegal Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGOs).

Police authorities have also arrested 10 Chinese nationals last May 2, also in Multinational Village, for alleged human trafficking.

“We certainly welcome foreign nationals in our country if they have valid employment permits (EPs) and if they do not compete with our equally, and at most times better, skilled workforce. But we should draw the line when it comes to foreigners who not only work here illegally, but also pose a threat to the peace and order in our communities,” said Yamsuan, who co-authored HB 1279.

Yamsuan said the current P10,000 fine imposed on foreigners found illegally working in the country is too paltry and should be hiked to P50,000 for every year or a fraction thereof of continuing violation as proposed under the bill.

Under HB 1279, nonresident foreign nationals who have secured EPs but chose to transfer to another job or employer without notice to, and approval of, the Secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), shall be penalized with a fine ranging from P50,000 to P100,000. Upon the discretion of the court, the erring foreign worker shall also be punished with imprisonment of not less than six months but not more than six years. The same penalties will also be imposed on the foreign worker’s employer.

Moreover, the foreign worker shall be deported after completing his or her jail term.

An employer or any of his or her authorized representative found to have hired nonresident foreign nationals to illegally work in the country shall be fined from P100,000 to P200,000 under the bill.

The punishment may also include an order by the DOLE to suspend or order the closure of the employer’s business operations.

“In all cases, the fines imposed herein shall be without prejudice to other administrative, civil or criminal liability that may incur by reason of such act or omission,” the bill likewise states.

HB 1279 also provides for a labor market test to ensure that foreign workers are given EPs only after the determination of the non-availability of qualified Filipinos willing to perform the job required of these foreign workers.

The DOLE is authorized to grant exemptions to the labor market test if the professional expertise of the foreign worker-applicant cannot be met by the existing labor supply.

Yamsuan said the bill also makes it clear that the DOLE is the authority that should issue EPs to foreign workers in enterprises registered in preferred areas of investment or designated economic zones.

HB 1279 also includes a provision that requires foreign nationals with EPs to transfer relevant skills and knowledge to at least two Filipino understudies in the enterprise where they are employed within a period prescribed by the DOLE.

Failure to abide by this provision under the bill penalizes the foreign national with a fine of not less than P100,000 for every year of non-compliance, without prejudice to the non-renewal of his or her work permit, and the blacklisting of the local employer.

The measure also mandates DOLE to maintain a registry of foreign nationals indicating their respective status of employment and the issuance of EPs to them.

Meanwhile, employers are required under the bill to submit a list of their foreign hires to the DOLE regional director who has jurisdiction over them. The list should include the names of the foreign workers, their citizenship, foreign and local addresses, nature of employment and status of stay in the country.

HB 1279 lists Representatives LRay Villafuerte, Miguel Luis Villafuerte and Tsuyoshi Anthony Horibata as principal authors.