The Bureau of Immigration (BI) is in the process of a continuing audit in the belief that the over 400 foreign nationals who have been blacklisted by the agency in November for being petitioned by fake companies is just the ‘tip of the iceberg’.
BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco said that “anti-corruption measures have always been on top of our priority list following the many issues that the BI has faced in the past.
“Kaya may mga ganito tayo ngayong auditing. These auditing and investigations are resulting in the uncovering of schemes that could have otherwise grown and festered,” the BI chief added, as he also thanked Justice Secretary Crispin Remulla for his continuous support in the bureau’s initiatives to cleanse its ranks.
Tansingco said he had met with Remulla last Monday to update the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the ongoing investigation.
“During our initial investigation, at least 40 travel agencies and liaison officers are suspected of being involved in the scheme, and we reported to the SOJ a total of 116 employers found to be fake,” he told Remulla.
Last year, the BI reported to the DOJ the blacklisting of 459 aliens after the audit of its verification and compliance division (VCD) revealed that said foreign nationals have been using fake companies in their 9(g) visa application.
A 9(g) pre-arranged employment visa is a requisite for foreign nationals working in the Philippines.
“Last November, we recommended to the SOJ the cancellation of the visas of these aliens, as well as the issuance of show case orders against those who involved in the application,” said Tansingco. “We also recommended the issuance of show cause orders against four BI lawyers and the abolition of the Legal Division’s visa task force,” Tansingco said.
A fact-finding group has also been established to dig deeper in the incident implicating the said BI lawyers.
In December, the BI released an advisory suspending the acceptance of applications of companies with single proprietorship as petitioners.
According to Tansingco, this was a result of his discussions with the Secretary of Justice (SOJ), as sole proprietorship companies were mostly used by the erring aliens. He shared that they are keen on auditing visas issued within the last five years.
Tansingco said he believes that the initial findings submitted by the VCD is just the tip of the iceberg, and they are expecting more blacklistings once the investigation is concluded.
“Once we discovered the scheme, we immediately informed the DOJ who approved our recommendations,” said Tansingco.
“As such, we have reorganized the visa-issuance procedures, palit lahat top to bottom, including the procedures in accepting, reviewing, assessing, up until the issuing of the visas. Tingin namin baka abutin ng one thousand or more ang mga foreigners that are petitioned by these fake companies,” he added.
Tansingco said he will not hesitate to recommend to the Secretary the imposition of administrative disciplinary sanctions against any and all BI personnel who are found to be involved the said fraudulent scheme.
Under civil service rules, the Secretary of Justice is the administrative disciplining authority of BI employees and personnel.