By Samuel P. Medenilla, August 6 2019; Business Mirror

Image Credit to Business Mirror

THE country is now poised to register its biggest number of applications for Alien Employment Permit (AEP) this year with the implementation of new government permit regulations for foreigners.

During the first half of the year, the Bureau of Local Employment (BLE) said it already registered 52,450 AEP applications, a figure that is approaching the 2018 full-year total of overall AEP applications at 54,251.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) issues AEPs to foreign nationals before they can work in the country for more than six months.

“Most of them are really Chinese nationals and they really come from the POGO [Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators] sector,” BLE Director Dominque R. Tutay told BusinessMirror in an interview.

Growing industry

She attributed this to the new Joint Guidelines, signed last May, limiting the categories covered by the Special Work Permit (SWP) to just 14.

Following the enforcement of the guidelines, foreign nationals (FN) in POGOs were no longer allowed to apply under the SWP.

A SWP is a document issued by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to FNs before they work in the country for less than six months.

“Even before it took effect, foreigners were already aware of our [policy] track and have started to apply for the AEP [to continue working in the country],” Tutay said.

Based on its initial reports, BLE said the POGO is expected to expand its operations further as some areas like Cavite set up specific hubs for the said industry.

“We also learned there is now already poaching [of workers] within the POGO sector. So we really need to develop Philippine talent for that,” Tutay said.

Revenue generation

She reiterated their appeal to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) to make it mandatory for POGO operators to train Filipinos to speak in Chinese.

“This will increase the proportion of Filipinos in the POGO sector,” Tutay said.

She said they expect the continuous surge in AEP applications will also translate to higher government revenues after they made Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) a requirement for AEP applications last April, which was formalized with a Joint Memorandum Circular.

Tutay said in the National Capital Region (NCR) alone, 9,466 FNs applied for AEP on May and 7,716 on June.

As of July 19, she said 6,355 FNs applied for AEP.

Based on its latest estimates, the Department of Finance (DOF) said it will collect at least P32 billion taxes from FNs.