On this file photo the city government probed on the operations of a company suspected to be behind an illegal online gambling operation

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said Thursday it is monitoring 260 Chinese nationals who are in the city and province under special working permits (SWPs).

Palawan labor and employment officer Luis Evangelista said they have already claimed their SWPs which are what they are monitoring because they have expirations.

He said it is also because the Chinese nationals have to apply for their alien employment permit (AEP) to legalize their stay in the country.

“Sa ngayon may SWP sila at kung kailan ito mag-e-expire ‘yon ang binabantayan ni DOLE dahil kung tuloy pa sila sa trabaho kahit expire na ang permita nila ay pupuntahan na sila ng inspector namin,” he said.

Authorities have identified the local company that hired the Chinese workers as Octofox IT Solutions.

They were brought into the country without proper working visas and staying in separate hotels.

Octofox IT Solution president Garry Abriol claimed their company is not yet operating and they are still waiting for the working visas of the foreign workers.

Abriol earlier presented to the City Council his mayor’s permit, Security Exchange Commission (SEC) registration, and documents from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).

“Hindi pa kami nag-o-operate kasi nga inaantay pa natin ang mga working visa ng mga Chinese. Para po itong casino na offshore operation, kaya lang ngayon despite of the issued permits ay kailangan pa namin antayin ang working visas,” he said.

Councilor Rolando Amurao said Octofox which was able to obtain from PAGCOR an authority to do online gaming should only operate at Unitop Mall.

Evangelista said a representative of the Chinese workers has inquired from his office regarding the requirements that need to be complied with for the issuance of an AEP.

“Nag-inquire sila pero ‘yon pa lang. Tinatanong kasi nila kung mga magkano ang magagastos kung sakali. Actually, nagsubmit naman sila sa office ng kopya ng SWP nila,” he said.

He added that a penalty of P8,000 will be imposed on a foreign national working in the country without necessary permits.

“May mga penalties kasi kapag may foreign national na naabutan without working permit during the inspection, may penalty ‘yon,” Evangelista pointed out.

He said they have so far issued AEPs to 25 foreign nationals renewable every two years.

 “Dapat hindi ka na tumagal ng husto kasi kaya ka lang naman na-hire [ng foreigner] dahil wala pang nakikita na local employee na pwedeng mag-trabaho. Kaya ang condition kay establishment dapat habang nandidito si foreign national nagti-train siya ng bagong trabahador from local,” he said.

In Palawan, DOLE records show that the usual jobs for foreigners are as dive instructors, chefs, and interpreters.

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is the chief of correspondents of Palawan News. She covers defense, politics, tourism, health, and sports stories. She loves to travel and explore different foods.