Senators join fray over Korean visa

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — SENATOR Manuel Villar said yesterday that South Korea could be expected to lift the suspension order it imposed on the issuance of visa to Filipino workers.

This developed after South Korea Consul General Hong Sungmog apologized to the Department of Foreign Affairs for the issuance of the suspension order although he said it would remain until the Philippine government takes steps on the extortion complaint of Korean nationals against certain personnel of the Bureau of Immigration.

In a separate statement, Senator Manuel Roxas chided the Korean Embassy for the “retaliatory” action it had taken, saying the proper action would have been to complain before the foreign affairs department.

“We look forward to the immediate lifting of this suspension order by the Korean Embassy in the interest of fairness and to allow our workers to start work abroad,” Villar said. “It is most unfair that innocent OFW’s bear the brunt of the brazenness of immigration misfits who have victimized a number of Korean nationals.”

Villar also lauded the DFA for acting promptly on the matter. But he stressed that Immigration should address the complaints and work with the foreign affairs department since the issue involves personnel whose offenses carry far-reaching consequences.

“The DFA fully understands the situation and I am confident that the issue would be resolved swiftly in order to serve and protect the interest of our OFW’s awaiting their visas,” Villar said.

For his part, Roxas said the sovereign right of South Korea to grant or deny visa should be respected, it is unfortunate that they used as leverage to hasten government action on the complaints of South Korean nationals the visa to Filipino workers.

“The more sober and appropriate approach would be for the Korean Embassy to bring such complaints to the immediate attention of the Department of Foreign Affairs,” Roxas said.

He said Immigration chief Marcelino Libanan has already promised to investigate the alleged extortion activities by immigration personnel, but Roxas said the new leadership should be given time to do this.

“I urge the Korean Embassy to reconsider its decision and to spare innocent workers from what appears to be just a slight misunderstanding,” Roxas said.

“Good neighbors need not resort to such tactics,” he said, noting that the retaliatory action of South Korea demeans the historic friendship between the two countries.

Roxas noted that the Philippines was the only Asian country to send troops to defend South Korea during the Korean War and Korean students have sought refuge here when their country was in turmoil.