By Samuel P. Medenilla, April 22 2019; Business Mirror

Image Credit to GMA News

Despite constraints in its 2019 budget, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) vows to continue pushing for policy reforms limiting the entry of foreign workers in the country.

In an interview, Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said the DOLE is preparing a contingency plan in case they will still be required to retake the responsibility of issuing Special Work Permits (SWP) from the Bureau of Immigration (BI) without the corresponding increase in their 2019 funds.

Bello added that they plan to tap the additional 5,000 labor inspectors committed by the Department of Finance (DOF) to augment the personnel of DOLE regional offices to cater to SWP applicants.

“Our plan aside from making them [labor inspectors], we will also train them on the work of immigration agent,” Bello said.

Pending recruitment

THE labor department earlier said the DOF will be supporting DOLE’s bid to get additional labor inspectors to help ensure foreign workers applying for SWP will be paying taxes.

An SWP is a document issued by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to foreigners who will be working in the country for less than six months.

DOLE Financial and Management Service (FMS) Director Warren M. Miclat said they will first wait for the Notice of Staffing Compensation Action (Nosca) from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) before they could begin hiring additional labor inspectors.

“It will only take effect once DBM issues the necessary Nosca,” Miclat told the BusinessMirror in an interview. “It will contain the number of plantilla and salary grade level for the new positions.”

Bello said they are targeting to hire an additional 500 labor inspectors within the year.

The DOLE currently has around 800 labor inspectors, who are assigned to regularly inspect over 900,000 firms nationwide.

Vetoed provision

BELLO issued his latest pronouncement after Sen. Joel Villanueva expressed his dismay last week over President  Duterte’s veto of the special provision in the 2019 budget that ruled DOLE as the sole authority in granting SWPs.

Villanueva blamed the surge of foreign workers in the country for BI’s “irresponsible issuance” of SWPs.

DOLE’s Bureau of Local Employment (BLE) assured that ongoing efforts to close gaps in the country’s permit issuance for foreign workers will not be affected by the veto.

“The heads of [the] DOLE, DOJ [Department of Justice] and the BI have meeting of the mind through the joint guidelines that will be issued soon. We are the final stretch of consultation before the signing of the new guidelines,” BLE Director Dominique R. Tutay told the BusinessMirror in a text message.

Bello said the new “harmonized” policies for permit issuance for foreigners are expected to be approved within the month.