MANILA — The Senate on Friday resumed its inquiry into the influx of mainly Chinese foreign workers in the Philippines, with Sen. Joel Villanueva leading the investigation touting the constitutional guarantee on preference for Filipino workers.
Villanueva said mechanisms should be in place to ensure that Filipinos get hired in emerging industries. Fast-growing offshore gaming operations in the Philippines hire Chinese nationals because they speak Mandarin.
“Sagrado po sa atin ang Section 12, Article 12 of the Constitution that guarantees preference of Filipino labor sa anumang trabaho. Pilipino muna bago dayuhan,” he said.
(Section 12, Article 12 of the Constitution is sacred. It guarantees preference for Filipinos in any job. Filipino first before foreigners.)
“Wala ho tayong problema sa pagpasok ng foreign workers sa bansa. Siguruhin lang natin tama ‘yung proseso, maayos, hindi mangbubuhos ng taho sa ating kapulisan, hindi mabalitaang nangchop-chop, nanuntok ng Pilipina sa isang bar.”
MAJORITY OF FOREIGN WORKERS ARE CHINESE
The Department of Labor and Employment issued some 179,000 alien employment permits (AEPs) from 2016 to 2018, said agency chief Silvestre Bello III.
Of the total AEP holders, 50 percent or 90,496 were Chinese and 35 percent were involved with administrative and support services, including those concerned with offshore gaming, he told lawmakers.
AEPs are different from special working permits issued by the Bureau of Immigration for foreign nationals who will be in the country for less than 6 months, like artists staging concerts or players drafted for the basketball league.
Some 185,000 special working permits were issued in the last 11 months, said Villanueva.
The labor department has no power to deport workers with special working permits and jobs that can be done by Filipinos, said Bello.
“In reality, ‘pag may nakita kaming ganyan, hanggang tingin lang kami (if we see something like that, all we can do is look). We have no police authority,” he said.
“If the Congress will give us the authority to immediately deport or close the business establishment hiring this guy, then we will do that,” he added.
While other sources have also confirmed that there are at least 100-150,000 more Chinese workers who are undocumented.