Chinese workers grabbing jobs meant for Filipinos? Labor chief reacts

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 27 2018 04:15 PM | Updated as of Dec 28 2018 09:58 AM

MANILA - There is “no rampant” practice of jobs for Filipinos ending up being given to foreign nationals, the Philippines’ labor secretary said, as concerns over the alleged flooding of Chinese workers in the country rise.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the government has formed an inter-agency body that will look into the concerns being raised about the online gambling industry in the country, which has attracted thousands of Chinese workers and caused a spike in the prices of real estate properties in some parts of Metro Manila.

But Bello said that aside from the Chinese working for Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO), which requires fluency in the Chinese language, the other jobs that end up being given to foreigners are those Filipinos cannot perform.

“It is a basic requirement in the issuance of an AEPs (Alien Employment Permits) that you can only issue an AEP to a foreign national, if that national is going to do a job or a service that cannot be performed by Filipinos,” Bello said in a Palace press briefing.

Bello said he has issued a directive calling for a review of the AEPs. He said the department is also studying the revocation of a DOLE order granting the Bureau of Immigration the authority to issue AEPs.

“With the concern being raised by some sectors that there are so many foreigners working without permit, some owners doing business without permit, we are studying the possibility of revoking that delegation of authority in coordination with the DOJ (Department of Justice), which has supervision over the BI.

Bello said a third of some 115,000 alien employment permits issued by the Philippine government from 2015 to 2017 went to Chinese nationals.

The BI, meanwhile, said there was a spike in the number of Chinese workers in the country in 2017, setting a record of about 22,599 of them holding working visas.

Unemployment in the Philippines was at 5.1 percent while underemployment was at 13.3 in October, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority's Labor Force Survey. This represents 41.3 million employed Filipinos, 2.2 million unemployed and 5.5 million underemployed in October, data showed.

The spike in the number of Chinese getting jobs in the Philippines has been attributed to President Rodrigo Duterte’s warming towards China.

Duterte last month even said illegal Chinese workers in the Philippines should be deported but the issue should be approached "carefully."

"They should be deported but in the same manner, you should be careful because when you point at the Chinese, you’re also pointing at yourself. There are so many thousands of Filipinos working there, [who] went inside China as tourists and [started] working there," Duterte told reporters in Bohol.

"It is not okay but there has to be an arrangement there."

Duterte said China has not deported any illegal Filipino workers.