BEIJING—The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is mandating Chinese state-owned rail companies to hire Filipino workers in the construction of China-funded railway projects in the Philippines.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, who was in China to accompany President Rodrigo Duterte in his 4-day visit, said he has articulated this requirement to the Chinese officials during their recent meetings here.
This comes amid public concerns about the supposed surge of illegal Chinese nationals in the Philippines who work in China-funded infrastructure projects.
“Sabi ko you have to use Filipino workers, I give it to you, that you can bring in the engineers and the technical people for the very simple reason, and no-brainer, na specialized. But to marry that requirement, nag-agree sila,” Tugade told reporters Saturday.
The DOTr is currently facilitating the construction of at least 3 China-funded railway projects under Duterte’s Build, Build, Build program — the PNR South Railway project, the Clark-Subic Railway project, and the Mindanao Railway project.
Tugade said that for the PNR South Railway project, the Chinese contractor has committed to train an initial 1,000 Filipino workers.
“Nag-agree ngayon mag-uumpisa mag-contract sa South, magte-training sila ng Filipino workers. Initial natin du’n 1,000. Train nila para pag-nag start ng construction, ’yung Pilipino workers are in place and that’s a very nice arrangement,” he said.
The Philippine government has denied issuing work permits to Chinese construction workers, saying that they only allow highly technical experts to work in the country’s construction industry.
Tugade said he will also be requiring these foreign technical experts to pay the appropriate income taxes to the government.
“Eto ’yang catch: ’Pag kayo kumita, kung engineer niyo or technical people niyo sa Pilipinas bayaran niyo tax. Sabi nila, ‘We pay tax.' Sabi ko I’m not questioning. Let’s not discuss whether you are paying tax, I know you pay tax but at least let’s put it in written form of your agreement and willingness to pay the appropriate allowable and legal taxes,” Tugade said.