Press Release
July 19, 2007

Jinggoy lauds resumption of SOKOR visa applications
Reiterates call for punishment of 'extorting BI officials'

Opposition stalwart Sen. Jinggoy Estrada yesterday lauded the decision of the South Korean embassy in Manila to resume accepting applications for work visas of outbound Filipinos, even as he reiterated his call on the Arroyo administration to identify and punish its Immigration officials that allegedly extorted from Koreans in the country.

This, after Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) deputy chief Vivea Catalig reported that the embassy has resumed receiving applications for visas Wednesday morning.

The embassy earlier suspended accepting the applications due to what it said was inaction by Philippine authorities on its complaints against harassment and extortion by Bureau of Immigration officials on Koreans in the country.

"This is a laudable move on the part of the Korean embassy. Now, it's the turn of the Arroyo administration to make its own move and punish whoever among its people were responsible for this mess that affected the Korea-bound Filipino workers," Estrada said.

The solon noted reports that the suspension already caused applications to pile up at the POEA, leaving at least 77 visa applications pending, with about four Filipinos supposed to depart for Korea stopped from leaving.

Estrada chided Immigration Commissioner Marcelino Libanan for the latter's "rhetorics" on the issue.

"Days had passed since this issue was brought to the government's attention. But we still await its concrete actions on it. All we have heard so far were mere rhetorics by Mr. Libanan that he would order an investigation on the matter," Estrada said.


Estrada added, "He (Libanan) was quick to say the real issue was not extortion but the BI's campaign against Korean nationals illegally engaged in business here. He should have been as quick in probing the veracity of the embassy's complaints."

"I would like to remind Commissioner Libanan that his agency's apprehending of Koreans illegally engaged in business in our country is one thing, but its alleged extorting from these foreign nationals is another thing, which is actually the main concern in this issue," Estrada said.

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