How do you solve a problem like the influx of Chinese?

November 27, 2018

Belated happy, happy birthday to Ms. Malou Reyes, the very amiable right-hand person at the Resty Perez Group of Companies.

Also, belated happy birthday to Ms. Liza Gamban, the most efficient manager of Banco De Oro whose branch has reaped various awards for the quality service she and her staff offer to clients.

To these two wonderful women, may you be blessed the whole year round!!!

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The recent operation of police authorities against an illegal online gambling operation in Pasig City where 93 workers were rounded up has spurred an investigation by the Senate committee on labor, employment and human resources chaired by Senator Joel Villanueva.

This, particularly after most of the said 93 workers turned out to be Chinese nationals, whose employment is now being questioned by many quarters.

Among the questions that Senator Villanueva will likely seek an answer to when his committee starts  its probe next week is  how the Chinese workers have, in his own words, ‘proliferated’ and’ shamelessly robbed’ Filipinos of job opportunities.

Let’s start from the top.  How do these Chinese nationals manage to set foot in our country? Well, first, they -- or at least most of them -- apply for tourist visas which give them the privilege to enter the Philippines.

The said 93 visit visas issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) are good for anywhere between 30 and 59 days.

Once they set foot at our airports, these Chinese tourists, just like any other  nationalities, are subjected to the usual screening and profiling and in the absence of any derogatory record or justifiable reason to bar them, they are allowed entry.

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) people manning our ports of entry cannot be blamed on this aspect. I remember not too long ago when the BI became the subject of brickbats after having excluded -- or not allowing entry to -- so many Chinese nationals.

Apart from the fact that the Chinese Embassy has raised alarm over the huge number of Chinese nationals who were sent back to their ports of origin, the BI also has to take into serious consideration that the Philippines is trying to attract tourists to come into the country.

Once tourists are in the country -- let us not leave out the fact that there are also many Koreans working here -- they land jobs via their compatriots who have already settled here and then overstay their visas, the same way that some of our fellow Filipinos do in other countries, which was why the acronym ‘TnTs’ for ‘tago nang tago’ was coined.

Considering the undermanned status of the offices tasked to track down and bust those who overstay to work illegally, the BI is doing such a great job.

The problem may actually lie on the issuance of so many alien employment permits (AEP), which allows them to work legally in the Philippines. Supposedly, AEPs are issued in cases where there is no Filipino willing or competent enough to do the job being offered to a foreigner.

If reports are accurate, the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) issues the AEPs while agencies such as the Department of Justice, Bureau of Immigration, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and the Professional Regulatory Commission also issue special work permits to aliens.

Figures from news reports show that nearly 116,000 foreigners have been issued AEPs since 2015. Of the number, 52,000 or about 45 percent are Chinese nationals, now working in manufacturing, information and communications and administrative and support services sectors. Most  of them are also said to be in Metro Manila.

Judging from the way he has handled several investigation in the past, I trust that Sen. Villanueva will be able to pinpoint where the problem lies and what can be done about it.

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Jokjok (from Stephen Coloma of Sampaloc, Manila) -- GIRL: Sweetheart, nasaan ka ngayon? What are you doing?/BOY: Andito lang ako sa house, pahinga kasi masama pakiramdam ko, matutulog na din ako maya-maya lang. Eh ikaw sweetheart? Ano ginagawa mo?/GIRL: Eto, aliw na aliw sa pinapanood ko!/BOY: Talaga? Akala ko ’di ka mahilig sa movies. Ano pinapanood mo?/GIRL: Eh ’di ikaw! Pinapanood kita habang may ka-holding hands ka at kainumang ibang babae sa bar… O, ’di ba nakakaaliw???

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