MALACAÑANG on Thursday, January 24, sees nothing wrong with the increasing number of Chinese migrant workers in the Philippines since there are not enough skilled Filipino workers.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that Filipinos have sought overseas jobs just as Chinese workers have sought jobs in the country.

"Kasi ‘yung mga workers daw nga natin nagpunta na sa abroad so wala nang natira. Puro nasa abroad. May problema talaga tayo (Because our workers went abroad so we lack Filipino workforce. We really have a problem)," he told a press conference.

"That is the probably the reality now, that’s is why maraming (there are many) Chinese workers [in the country]," he added.

Panelo also said Filipinos "lack the skill" when it comes to construction works.

But he added that the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda), through various construction courses it offered, can help Filipinos acquire skills.

"Wala na tayong mga construction workers ngayon dahil nag-puntahan sa abroad. Pangalawa, 'yung mga technical skills nitong mga umalis hindi nailipat sa mga anak nila, sa mga pamangkin nila, o sa mga kapitbahay nila. So Tesda comes in. I think we should establish more technical schools all over the land," Panelo said.

(We no longer have construction workers because they go abroad. Secondly, they do not teach technical skills to their children, relatives, or neighbors. So Tesda comes in. I think we should establish more schools all over the land.)

"We lack so many construction workers. Siguro that’s why maraming Chinese na kinukuha dahil walang mga Pilipino. Maraming Pilipinong walang trabaho, and yet, they lack the skill so we need to teach them. And most likely, 'yan ang magandang project ng Tesda," he added.

(We lack so many construction workers here. Perhaps, that's why there are many Chinese nationals being hired because no Filipinos can do construction works. There are many Filipinos who are unemployed, and yet, they lack the skill so we need to teach them. And most likely, that's a good project of Tesda.)

Some 51,000 of 115,652 alien employment permits granted from 2015 to 2017 were issued to Chinese nationals, according to the data from the Department of Labor and Employment.

Around 2,000 Chinese nationals were also given jobs in the past three years.

The Labor Code states that an alien employment permit can only be issued to foreign workers, if there are no interested or competent Filipinos to perform the job. The permit can only be issued for jobs requiring a highly-specialized technical, supervisorial, and managerial work.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) estimates that there were 2.3 million unemployed Filipinos in 2018, resulting in an unemployment rate of 5.3 percent.

Among the regions, the highest unemployment rates were reported in Ilocos Region (6.8 percent), NCR and Calabarzon (6.6 percent).

Panelo said an increase in Chinese migrant workers should not be a cause for concern if the Chinese workers underwent a lawful process.

He made the remark after former President Benigno Aquino III called on the Duterte administration to look into the influx of Chinese nationals who ended up as workers in the country.

On Tuesday, January 22, Aquino particularly wanted the current administration to determine if the Chinese workers are taking jobs that should be offered to FIlipinos.

The former president also raised worry that many of the Chinese workers in the country were in the construction industry, which is not among the sectors that require special skills.

"Siguro sabihin na lang natin(Let's just say), if he (Aquino) is concerned, we will also be concerned if his basis is correct. What was his basis? Was it a statistics made by him or by his group? Where did he get that information?" the Palace official said.

"There are many Chinese? If they came here through lawful means then I am not alarmed. I will be alarmed if they are here because they violated the law," he added. (SunStar Philippines)