MANILA - Malacañang on Monday said immigration laws will be fully enforced against illegal foreign workers in the Philippines.
This, after President Rodrigo Duterte said he cannot deport Chinese workers in the Philippines in fear of Filipinos being deported from China.
"We wish to clarify that the President's policy on Chinese workers who are illegally staying in the country remains the same, which is the enforcement of immigration laws against violators," Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
"Our laws will be applied with full force and effect equally to all foreign nationals who violate them," he added.
Panelo also said Chinese workers who have working permits and who follow immigration rules will be given the protection they are entitled to.
He, likewise, said the government cannot act recklessly against perceived violations of Chinese citizens as it may affect Filipinos working in China.
"The government will tread cautiously and in accordance with the Constitution in dealing with any matter involving Chinese migrants perceived or alleged to be staying illegally, given the situation of thousands of Filipinos staying in China not in accordance with its laws," Panelo said.
Duterte earlier said the illegal workers in the Philippines should be deported but the issue should be approached "carefully."
The Senate has launched a probe into the rising number of Chinese workers in the Philippines to check whether foreigners are taking over jobs that could have been for Filipinos.
Last Tuesday, the Bureau of Immigration arrested more than 200 foreign nationals in a raid on a network technology company in Makati City.
The BI's Intelligence Division arrested a total of 553 foreign nationals in 2018, mostly illegal workers.