MANILA - The Department of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday reminded overseas Filipinos to follow immigration rules after the United States banned Filipino workers from applying for some temporary work visas.
The DFA said Filipinos abroad must "follow immigration rules and avoid staying beyond what is allowed in their visas."
"The Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. along with the other Philippine Consulates General in the US, will continue to extend appropriate assistance to all its nationals pursuant to law," the agency said.
The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) earlier announced that the Philippines, Ethiopia and Dominican Republic are no longer qualified for H-2A and H-2B visas, work permits given to agricultural and non-agricultural laborers who intend to work in the United States temporarily, due to threats of severe overstaying and human trafficking.
The DFA said it acknowledges the United States' prerogative to cancel the eligibility of Filipinos to apply for some temporary work permits.
"As visa issuances are a country’s prerogative, the DFA notes the concerns that led the DHS to arrive at its decision," the agency said in a statement.
"Nonetheless, the Philippines is open to the possibility of working with the United States in addressing these issues, as it has previously done so with similar concerns involving the Filipino Community there," it said.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier said the Palace respects the US decision, but may appeal it should its enforcement be marred with unjust practices.
"If that is the law in the US, and there are violations, then we will need to respect. We will only react if our workers are being mistreated, maltreated," Panelo said in a Palace press briefing.
"We need to know whether there is basis for the decision. If there is none, we can ask for reconsideration," he said.
Hindi muna magbibigay ang United States ng mga H-2A at H-2B working visas sa mga Pinoy na hangad magtrabaho sa naturang bansa hanggang 2020, ayon sa US Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Ibinibigay ang H-2A visa sa mga dayuhang trabahador sa US na nagtatrabaho sa agrikultural na sektor habang ibinibigay ang H-2B visa sa mga dayuhang trabahador na hindi nagtatrabaho sa agrikultural na sektor.
Sa ilalim ng mga nabanggit na visa, pinapayagan ang mga employer na mag-hire ng trabahador na dayuhan na magtrabaho sa Amerika sa pamamagitan ng one-time, seasonal, o intermittent basis.
Sa isang pahayag sinabi ng DHS na ipapatupad ang naturang ban mula Enero 19, 2019 hanggang Enero 18, 2020 kasunod ng mga kasong overstaying at human trafficking na naitala umano sa "malaking" porsiyento ng mga Pinoy workers na pinagkalooban ng mga nabanggit na working visa.
"DHS and DOS (Department of State) are concerned about the high volume of trafficking victims from the Philippines who were originally issued H-2B visas and the potential that continued H-2B visa issuance may encourage or serve as an avenue for future human trafficking from the Philippines," anila sa pahayag.
Ayon sa US Federal Register, halos 40 porsiyento umano ng H-2B visa holder ang lumagpas sa nakatakdang panahon kung kailan sila dapat manatili sa US.
Dagdag ng mga opisyal, nagdudulot umano ito ng banta ng abuso, fraud, at iba pang problema sa integridad ng H-2A at H-2B visa programs.
Bukod sa Pilipinas, kabilang ang mga bansang Ethiopia at Dominican Republic sa tinanggal sa listahan ng mga nationality na maaaring mapagkalooban ng naturang visa.
Sa isang pahayag sinabi ni Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo na nirerespeto ng Malacañang ang desisyon ng DHS.
"If that is the law in the US, and there are violations, then we will need to respect. We will only react if our workers are being mistreated, maltreated," aniya.
Ipapaubaya rin nila ang isyu sa Philippine Embassy sa US at sa Department of Foreign Affairs ng Pilipinas.
The Department of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday said it will work with the United States government to address concerns that led to the Philippines' disqualification from obtaining a specialized work visa for foreigners.
Filipino workers were barred from participating in the H-2A and H-2B foreign worker visa program due to high overstay rate, according to the US Department of Homeland Security in a notice on Jan. 18.
It also cited concerns on the high volume of human trafficking victims from the Philippines who were originally issued H-2A H-2B visas.
Current Filipino H-2A and H-2B visa holders, however, are not affected.
"As visa issuances are a country’s prerogative, the DFA notes the concerns that led the DHS to arrive at its decision," a DFA statement said.
"Nonetheless, the Philippines is open to the possibility of working with the United States in addressing these issues, as it has previously done so with similar concerns involving the Filipino community there."
H-2A and H-2B visas allow US employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural and non-agricultural jobs, respectively, the DHS said in its website.
In view of this new policy, the DFA called on Filipinos in the US to follow immigration rules and avoid staying beyond what is allowed in their visas.
"The Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. along with the other Philippine Consulates General in the US, will continue to extend appropriate assistance to all its nationals pursuant to law," the DFA said. — RSJ, GMA News
Malacañang on Tuesday raised the possibility of appealing the decision of the United States to impose a one-year ban on the hiring of Filipino workers in agricultural and non-agricultural sectors.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the government will act as soon as it received a report on the matter from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez.
"What we can do is first, we need to know whether there is basis for their decision. If we can see na wala naman, then we will ask for a reconsideration. But that's the job again, as I said, [of the] DFA and [our] US ambassador," Panelo said at a news conference.
"Once we receive the report [from the DFA and ambassador to the US ], then we will make a move officially."
Panelo also said "anything that will affect our countrymen will always be a concern" of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The US Department of Homeland Security, in its notice posted in the Federal Register, banned the entry of additional Filipino workers with H2-A and H2-B visas due to "severe" overstaying and human trafficking concerns.
"The Philippines has a high H-2B overstay rate. In FY 2017, DHS estimated that nearly 40 percent of H-2B visa holders from the Philippines overstayed their period of authorized stay," the DHS notice read.
H-2A visas are temporary visas for foreign agricultural workers, while H2-B visas are issued to foreign workers providing non-agricultural services in the US.
"If the investigation yields that there was a violation, I don't think puwede tayong makialam doon. What we can do is to do our own controls here para hindi nakakarating doon ang trafficking na nanggagaling sa atin," Panelo said.
"If that is the law in the US and if there were violations, then we have to respect if they have basis for that. We will only react if our workers are being mistreated, maltreated or being discriminated against. And if they violated the laws of the US, then they have to face the music," he said.
Aside from the Philippines, Ethiopia and the Dominican Republic were also removed from the list of countries eligible for the said visa programs. — MDM/RSJ, GMA News
Japan is in need of over 300,000 foreign workers and lucky Filipino applicants can earn at least P50,000 a month as initial salary, according to JP Soriano's report on Unang Balita on Tuesday.
Industries in need of foreign workers are food service, manufacturing, food and beverage, care workers, building and cleaning management, construction, aviation and agriculture.
"Nangangailangan ang Japan ng 345,000 foreign workers but it doesn't mean sa Pilipinas lang iyon," clarified Jocelyn Sanchez, deputy administrator of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
"Maraming mga sending countries, and of course, pag Philippines world-class."
Sanchez said based on estimate, construction and hotel workers can earn P50,000 and above every month.
Foreign workers who have worked in Japan for five years will also be entitled to bring their families. —KBK, GMA News
The autopsy report on the newlyweds who went to Maldives for honeymoon showed that they died of cardiac arrest and drowning, according to a report by Katrina Son on GMA News TV's Balitanghali on Monday.
The father of Leomer Lagradilla said the autopsy showed that his son died of cardiac arrest, while Leomer's wife Erika died due to drowning.
The Department of Foreign Affairs on Monday said no Filipinos were hurt in the air strike that occurred in Syria, according to a report by Sandra Aguinaldo on GMA News TV's Balitanghali.
The DFA nevertheless advised Filipinos to take extra caution and stay indoors.
Filipinos were told "to stay indoors and avoid unnecessary movement" after several locations in the Syrian capital were subjected to airstrikes that targeted Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Syrian air defenses.
Manila's last security warning for Filipinos in Syria was in April 2018. The remaining Filipinos in Syria are mostly spouses of Syrian nationals and household service workers.
There were 17,000 Filipinos in Syria when the civil war erupted in 2011. Syria has remained under crisis alert level 4 since then, but hundreds of Filipino opted to stay.
Alert level 4 calls for the mandatory evacuation and total deployment ban. It is the highest security warning given by the Philippines on countries that pose security risks to Filipino travelers and workers due to armed conflict or disaster.