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July 1996, Volume 3, Number 7

Filipino Overseas Workers

The Philippines, the major emigration nation in Asia, believes that there are at least 5,000 illegal aliens living in the country who were granted visa extensions in 1973, and then stayed in the country illegally after their extended visas expired. Most are believed to be businessmen with investments in the country.

The Philippines is offering an amnesty through the Alien Social Integration Act for some of the estimated 70,000 illegal aliens in the country.

The Philippines' Bureau of Immigration and Deportation announced on June 5 the creation of a special task force to process the amnesty applications of undocumented residents. The task force, composed of two immigration lawyers and eight intelligence agents, will process applications from illegal aliens with no criminal record who entered the country on or before June 30, 1991. Each principal applicant will be required to pay US $7,923, spouses, US $2,154, and children US $1,192.

Through the collection of fees, the task force hopes to raise 4 to 6 billion pesos by the end of the alien integration period of December 21, 1996. As of June 1996, only 7,000 aliens applied for amnesty.

An estimated 13,000 Filipinos managed to leave Davao illegally for jobs in Malaysia, Indonesia or Taiwan in 1996. According to reports, many Filipinos who pay money to smugglers to take them abroad lose their money when the smuggler disappears before transporting them.

One report says that, in Davao, Filipinos are asked to pay 90,000 pesos (US $3,440) for the chance to "directly work abroad," with a money-back guarantee in case of problems. In May, Philippine authorities seized an Indonesian-registered boat carrying 24 Filipino workers without proper permits.

Despite a Filipino government ban on the deployment of maids to Singapore, Filipino domestic workers still head for that island nation. The Filipino government announced the ban after the hanging of Filipino domestic worker Flor Contemplacion for murdering her employer. A Filipino maid earns about S$280 per month in Singapore. A Philippine government official says that between 100 to 200 Filipino maids arrive in Singapore each week. A UN report indicates that about 55 percent of the four to five million Filipinos working abroad are women.

Unemployment in the Philippines is about eight percent, but according to some estimates, if all the overseas workers stayed at home, unemployment would be 11 or 12 percent.

Leticia Perez, "Filipino maids still heading for Singapore," Straits Times (Singapore), June 15, 1996. "55 more maid agencies accept new contract," Straits Times (Singapore), June 15, 1996. "Tackling Abuse of Workers," Chicago Tribune, June 9, 1996. "Immigration bureau to crack down on illegal aliens," Japan Economic Newswire, June 5, 1996. "Philippines human smuggling continues," United Press International, May 21, 1996. "The lost daughters," The Economist, May 11, 1996.