Chinese envoy says Filipino illegal workers also present in China

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 01 2019 06:59 PM

MANILA - Manila must deal with the issue of Chinese nationals working illegally in the Philippines “professionally,” Beijing’s envoy said Monday, as he noted that there are also Filipinos working illegally in China.

Concerns have been raised about the growing number of Chinese workers in the Philippines which critics say are taking jobs needed by Filipinos.

Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua said China does not allow any of its citizens to work in a foreign country illegally, but he appealed for a “professional” approach on the matter.

He said China would want illegal Chinese workers here to be treated the same way the Philippines would want its nationals working illegally in China handled.

“It's up to you to deal with the issue in accordance with your law. But as we're dealing with the illegal foreign nationals illegally working in China, we also follow our laws and procedures,” Zhao told reporters.

“We would also call on the law enforcement agencies here to deal with this issue professionally. You have to take into consideration the humanitarian needs of those Chinese nationals as we are doing exactly when it comes to Filipinos working illegally in China.”

Asked whether this was a warning of a tit for tat response from China, Zhao said: “That's not the usually the diplomatic way to do it or to describe it. I think it's the obligation, concern of respective countries to carry out their laws and regulations, so I don't want to put this issue in such a way that we are doing tit for tat.”

Admitting the presence of Chinese illegal workers in the Philippines, Zhao said the Philippine and Chinese governments are handling the situation “professionally, in the spirit of our friendship and cooperation.”

ABS-CBN News recently obtained a video of a construction project showing Chinese workers doing manual labor, from mixing cement to loading, and carrying construction materials.

A news team went to the site to interview the workers and the contractor. The Chinese contractor said they have 50 Filipino and 15 Chinese workers.

When asked why they have to employ Chinese workers, the contractor claimed that some Filipinos don't know how to do the work. He said all their foreign workers have work permits.

Labor group Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) has expressed alarm over the presence of foreign workers, even in privately funded construction projects, saying it is proof that Filipinos are losing jobs to foreigners in their own land.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier appealed for a cautious handling of the issue, noting that China is also home to Filipino workers.

The Philippines has also become a destination for Chinese workers in the offshore gaming industry. The finance department has warned the Philippines could be losing billions from uncollected income taxes of foreign workers in this industry.