Zubiri seeks ban on foreign contractors in public projects under P2 billion

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 15 2020 02:41 PM

Workers continue construction on the Skyway Stage-3 project along Quirino Avenue. The Skyway extension, which will link the north and south expressways and decongest traffic in Metro Manila, is one of the key infrastructure projects of the government. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA— Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri on Thursday said the entry and participation of foreign contractors in the Philippines should be limited to ensure Filipinos benefit more from government projects.

Zubiri said he would soon file a bill that bans foreign contractors from bidding in public contracts worth less than P2 billion.

"Ayoko mangyari na all projects of Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) pasukan nila, which will ease out local contractors," Zubiri told reporters in an online press conference.

(What I don't want to happen is that they enter all projects of the DPWH, which will ease out local contractors.)

"We will allow them to participate on highly-specialized projects, but also on a limited scale," he said.

Under the proposal, foreign contractors will also have to ensure that between 80 and 90 percent of its workers are Filipinos.

"Let us employ Filipinos. Let us employ our kababayans (countrymen). 'Wag naman po 'yung mga taga ibang bansa," he said.

(Let us not employ foreigners.)

"Kung hindi baka Chinese na ang nagtra-trabaho sa paglalagay ng mga kanal, ng mga kalsada," he said.

(If not, we might see Chinese workers installing drainages and building our roads.)

The Supreme Court recently ruled that Republic Act 4566 or the Contractors' License Law does not "limit foreign firms from getting contractors' licenses" in the Philippines.

"The effect is Chinese corporations can now participate all the way down to barangay-level projects," Zubiri said.

"May financial capacity sila (They have the financial capacity) so they can win many projects of the DPWH on the local level," he said.

Under Zubiri's proposal, foreign workers will only be allowed to participate in public projects as technical consultants.

"They (Foreigners) can participate, but the main bulk of their force will be Filipinos," he said.

"Leave smaller projects to the Filipinos, to the locals," he said.

A recent Senate hearing found that 45 percent of workers in the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge project in the capital city are Chinese.