Call center raided

THE National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7 arrested more than 60 Japanese nationals for allegedly working without proper working permits in a call center in Cebu City yesterday afternoon.

The foreigners and the company violated Presidential Decree (PD) 442 or the Labor Code of the Philippines, according to NBI 7 Assistant Director Augusto Eric Isidoro.

The company, Japan Intertrade Call Center Corp. (JICC), holds office on the fifth floor of TGU Tower in the Cebu IT Park in Barangay Apas.
 
A source from the NBI said that the foreigners have provisional working permits signed by an immigration officer even without the alien employment permits (AEP) from the labor department.

An AEP is a requirement before a foreigner can get a provisional working permit, the source added.

Yuko Tsushima, chief operating officer and chief financial officer of JICC, said in an interview that she is confident her employees have legitimate documents.

“We are confident with our papers and our compliance with the Philippine law. These all came from malicious allegations made by two former employees whom we filed criminal cases against. These false allegations will be disproven,” Tsushima said.

She said they have no problem in following what NBI will require them to do.

The firm has 15 Filipino employees, according to Isidoro.

He pointed out that Article 40 of PD 442 requires foreigners to obtain employment permits from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) 7.

“Any alien seeking admission to the Philippines for employment purposes and any domestic or foreign employer who desires to engage an alien for employment in the Philippines shall obtain an employment permit from the Department of Labor,” Article 40 read.

Isidoro said they will also investigate the immigration officer who reportedly issued the provisional working permits even in the absence of permits from the labor department.

Dapat walang available na competent, qualified na Filipino to do this kind of job. Pag meron, ang preference ay sa Filipino kasi dini-deprive natin yung mga Filipino of employment (If there are competent and qualified Filipinos to do the job, then they should be given preference in hiring),” said Isidoro.

Lawyer Pauline Demano-Gothong of JICC told reporters that the Japanese nationals are on-the-job trainees for six months and they do not need permits from DOLE 7.

In an ABS-CBN report, she said that the call center started five years ago and deals with Japanese-made automotive products.

The operation came three days after the operatives of the Police Regional Office 7 arrested 69 Taiwanese and Chinese nationals who allegedly ran an online extortion racket against their countrymen. 

The NBI raid was authorized by Municipal Trial Court in Cities Executive Judge Monalila Tecson, who issued a search warrant last Thursday. 

Representatives from DOLE 7 and Bureau of Immigration 7 assisted the agents yesterday. Apas Barangay Captain Ramil Ayuman also witnessed the implementation of the search warrant.

Eichi Chiba, Megumi Nagayama, Shota Shimzu, Yuko Tsushima, Naotaka Yahagi, Eisuke Gotoh, Yumi Nakamura, Kaori Yonai, Sayuri Marusugi and Toshikawa Taketumi are the Japanese nationals mentioned in the warrant. 

Before the raid happened past 4 p.m., Isidoro said they were tipped about Japanese nationals working without proper working documents. 

They applied for a search warrant after they confirmed the information.  

Judge Tecson ordered NBI to seize cash and payroll vouchers with signatures of Chiba and company, employment contracts, records, immigration documents, computer sets and other gadgets. 

Isidoro said they will check the business permit of JICC.

The Japanese nationals may face complaints for violating PD 442 and may face deportation after conviction, added Isidoro.

A convicted person may face jail time of three months until three years and a fine ranging from P1,000 to P10,000. The company can also be fined.

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