MANILA -- Sen. Nancy Binay on Sunday called for a blanket ban on the employment of foreign construction workers particularly in the government’s infrastructure projects to protect the welfare of Filipino workers.
"Ang panawagan ay total ban sa pagpasok ng mga Chinese laborer at construction workers. Our duty is to protect our own workers and provide job security for them--but sadly, we're opening our labor market to non-Filipinos," she said in a statement.
(The appeal is a total ban on the entry of Chinese laborers and construction workers.)
"Kawawa naman tayo. Yung mga trabaho na dapat para sa mga kababayan natin eh napupunta lang sa ibang lahi," she added.
(We are pitiful. Jobs that are supposed to be for our compatriots go to foreign nationals.)
The senator also said it was unacceptable to hire Mandarin-speaking Chinese laborers just because most of the equipment to be used in China-funded infrastructure projects are supposedly written in Chinese characters.
An interpreter should be enough to fill the communication gap, she said.
The administration, she said, will fail to fulfill its promise to give Filipinos jobs under its infrastructure drive if foreigners were given preferential treatment "because of conditionalities inserted in official development assistance loans."
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.
The project's Chinese contractor said they have 50 Filipino and 15 Chinese workers.
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.