Press Release
June 24, 2008

Jinggoy asks DFA, DOLE to push for Europe's
"regularization" of undocumented Filipino workers

Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada today called on the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to appeal to the European Union (EU) to allow and implement a "regularization scheme" for thousands of irregular or undocumented Filipino workers there.

Estrada, concurrent chair of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development, and of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Labor and Employment, aired the call in light of a new immigration measure against "irregular migrants" being crafted by the EU parliament.

The measure, recently passed by the EU parliament on first reading and will be enforced 24 months after the rule's final adoption, details the procedures for detention for up to 18 months, deportation and re-entry ban for violators, including children.

The senator noted the report that some 94,000 irregular or undocumented Filipino workers in Europe may be affected by the measure.

"We are not condoning the act by some of our kababayans who, because of dire need of decent-paying jobs which our country has not been able to provide them, enter and stay as undocumented workers in the EU or in any other foreign country. However, our government must not just allow them to be detained there and, after deportation, consequently slapped with a re-entry ban," the senator said.

"We cannot afford a situation where thousands of Filipinos will be detained in a foreign country. Actually, we also cannot immediately provide alternative jobs to that huge number of people that would be forced to return to our country," Estrada added.

According to reports, the European parliament's new measure is part of the EU's move to ensure that only regular migrants, to be issued Blue Cards, could work and live in Europe for long periods of time.

Based on DFA records, there are at least 610,102 Filipinos in Europe as of June 2007, of which, 189,023 are permanent residents, 189,023 are temporary residents, and 94,113 are undocumented.

"Our government, through the DFA and DOLE, still has at least 24 months to come up with a solution to this predicament affecting Filipino migrant workers again. In those 24 months, it should aggressively exert all efforts to assist our kababayans. Specifically, it should push for the regularization by Europe of these undocumented Filipino workers," Estrada said.

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