GMA NEWS – Dozens of Chinese citizens are working on at least two construction projects under President Rodrigo Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build” program and funded by Chinese grants, the Department of Public Works and Highways has disclosed.
According to Jam Sisante-Cayco’s exclusive report on “24 Oras”, project managers and many of the engineers and surveyors of the construction of the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge and the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge are Chinese citizens.
The projects cost P3.38 billion and P1.47 billion respectively and are funded by China through grants. The contractor is also Chinese.
“Walang panahon para i-train pa sila eh. So kailangan dito ‘yung mga experienced na agad na once the [notice to proceed] is issued, takbo agad ang trabaho. And they did, the original people in their company,” DPWH Director Virgilio Castillo said.
He, however, said that more local laborers were hired in the said projects.
Based on DPWH data, there are 93 Filipinos and 55 Chinese nationals working on the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge.
On the other hand, 58 Filipinos and 33 Chinese are employed under the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge project.
Filipinos are working as engineers, welders, security guards, and equipment operators, among others.
Castillo added that technology transfer is expected to take place in the working environment shared by local and foreign workers, saying that Filipinos are “fast learners.”
It was not indicated in the contract inked by the Philippines and China that more Filipinos should be hired for the said infrastructure projects.
The DPWH, for its part, said that it has urged China to abide by the Republic Act 6685 which requires private contractors to hire not less than 50 percent of unskilled laborers and 30 percent of skilled laborers from the residents of the area where the project is being undertaken.
Malacañang clarified that the Chinese workers are legally entering the country with permits. Those without proper documents shall face violations of immigration laws.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo added that Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua spoke to him about the matter.
“‘If this government will just deport Chinese not in accordance with law, then we will also do the same.’ That’s tit for tat. That’s very natural. That’s what he said. And of course, he added, ‘I know the Philippine government will not do that,'” he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte has said that he could not deport Chinese workers in the country as it could lead to a massive layoff of Filipinos working in China.
According to the 2017 data of the Department of Foreign Affairs, there are 397,166 Filipinos in China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan.