Senator concerned over issuance of work visas to fake companies

Senator concerned over issuance of work visas to fake companies

A PHILIPPINE senator raised alarm on Wednesday over the Bureau of Immigration’s (BI) issuance of work visas to foreigners registered as fake corporations.

“This is a national security risk,” Senator Ana Theresia N. Hontiveros-Baraquel said in a statement. “We won’t know if criminal syndicates are able to enter our country and we also have information that these work visas are what foreign nationals use to work for Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO).”

Last Tuesday, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla told a news briefing that he has ordered the BI to stop granting these work visas and to look into the issue.

He said the BI had allowed the issuance of “pre-arranged” employment visas to foreigners seeking legal work in the Philippines.

“We’re talking about more than 500 corporations and thousands and thousands of visas issued with the petition of these corporations which has been presumed validated by the legal department (of BI) and the visa issuing authority of the Bureau of Immigration,” Mr. Remulla said.

This came after the Department of Justice (DoJ) discovered that thousands of these visas were not registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), with many being linked to POGO firms.

“I do welcome the DoJ directive that orders that BI stop granting work visas requested by fake companies,” Ms. Hontiveros-Baraquel said. “We will look into this in our next senate hearings.”

Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian earlier filed a resolution seeking to permanently ban POGOs in the country.

In August last year, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) said it would start the privatization of 45 casinos by the third quarter of 2025, which is expected to generate between P60 billion and P80 billion in revenues.

Mr. Gatchalian said the move and make up for the losses the government would incur from shuttered POGO firms after it was reported that Pagcor failed to collect P2.2 billion in unpaid dues from these POGO outfits. — John Victor D. Ordoñez