Chinese envoy: Pinoys still form majority of workforce in China-funded bridge project

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 30 2020 08:52 PM

China allotted P5.4 billion for the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge that will connect the districts of Binondo and Intramuros, and the Estrella-Pantaleon bridge that will replace the existing bridge connecting Estrella Street in Makati and Barangka Drive in Mandaluyong. Chinese embassy in Manila/handout

MANILA—China’s ambassador to the Philippines on Friday said Filipinos made up the majority of the staff employed in the Binondo-Intramuros Friendship Bridge construction project in Manila, and Chinese workers only account for “less than 8 percent” of the workforce.

This came after several senators earlier this October said a third or 45 percent of workers in the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge project and 31 percent of those involved in the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge project are Chinese, citing the data they obtained from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

“The project has resumed full capacity currently with 128 Filipino and 37 Chinese employees working on site. The local employees account for 77.6 percent of the total staff,” Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian said in a statement.

Sen. Sonny Angara has said that under the law, professional vacancies — such as engineers, architects and doctors — must only be occupied by Filipino workers.

But Huang emphasized that Chinese employees in the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge project were “mainly managerial and technical personnel.”

The ambassador added they planned to hire more Filipinos in the said project.

“More local workers [will] be hired as the implementation dives deep, while Chinese employees are mainly managerial and technical personnel. Chinese enterprises in the Philippines have always attached great importance to localized development, always intending to hire local people as many as possible,” the statement from the Chinese embassy read.

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More job opportunities in the country will be created by China, he said, and said that major Chinese companies have already created at least 38,000 jobs in the Philippines.

“The local employee hiring rate accounts for more than 92%. With the further deepening of China-Philippine economic and trade cooperation, more and more job opportunities would be created accordingly by the Chinese side,” it said.

Public Works Secretary Mark Villar earlier said the foreign workers were hired as part of the agreement with China, which financed several projects in Manila.

"It's a grant. It is a gift from China," he said.

Villar said the foreign workers were also needed as the job requirements are "very machine-based" that require a "higher need for technical expertise."

China allotted P5.4 billion for the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge that will connect the historic Manila districts of Binondo and Intramuros, as well as the Estrella-Pantaleon bridge that will replace the existing bridge connecting Estrella Street in Makati and Barangka Drive in Mandaluyong.