A LABOR group based in Negros Occidental slammed the pronouncement of President Rodrigo Duterte allowing illegal Chinese workers to stay and work in the country, calling it as an insult to the dignity of Filipino workers.
Wennie Sancho, secretary general of General Alliance of Workers Association, said on Wednesday, February 27, Filipino workers were deprived of their right to work in their own country.
Sancho, also the labor representative to the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board in Western Visayas, said jobs, instead, were given to Chinese illegal workers.
“Our right to work was stolen from us and the government is looking the other way despite the apparent illegal violations,” he said, adding that “this is an unfair labor practice as far as we are concerned.”
The President’s suggestion was to allow Chinese illegally working in the Philippines to stay and keep their jobs.
This is to avoid a diplomatic controversy that could lead to the expulsion of thousands of Filipinos from China.
In a campaign sortie of Duterte administration’s senatorial bets in Laguna on Sunday, February 24, Duterte said “the Chinese here, just let them work here. Just let them. Why? We have 300,000 Filipinos in China.”
He explained that he could not just order the deportation of these foreign workers because China might respond in kind.
For the labor group, however, this is an added form of injustice to the Filipino workers who are unemployed.
Sancho said they anticipate that the Chinese are not only employers but employees.
Sancho expressed fear that in the long run China will win because illegal Chinese workers are invading the country.
“The policy of the state to afford full protection to labor was ignored,” he said, adding that “we will be importing rice, soon sugar and now we are importing workers from China.”
Sancho stressed “along with rice and sugar liberalization, we also have the liberalization of labor.”
In a new development, however, Malacañang on Monday, February 25, has clarified that the President is still eyeing the careful deportation of illegal Chinese workers in the Philippines after his previous remarks.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte's latest pronouncement was intended for Chinese workers in the country who secure working permits and comply with immigration rules.
“We wish to clarify that the President’s policy on Chinese workers who are illegally staying in the country remains the same, which is the enforcement of immigration laws against violators. Our laws will be applied with full force and effect equally to all foreign nationals who violate them,” Panelo said.
“Chinese workers who have working permits and compliant with immigration rules and do not violate the laws of the land will be accorded the protection they are entitled to,” he added.
Duterte’s latest remark came three months after he said he wanted the “careful” deportation of Chinese nationals who are illegally working in the country.
The Department of Labor and Employment has noted that some 51,000 of 115,652 alien employment permits have been granted to Chinese nationals from 2015 to 2017.
Panelo said the Duterte government would “cautiously” deal with Chinese migrants “perceived or alleged to be staying illegally, given the situation of thousands of Filipinos staying in China not in accordance with its laws.”
He added that the current administration would act in accordance with the 1987 Constitution, but stressed that enforcement of immigration laws does not mean the government would respond “recklessly” on supposed violations of Chinese workers in the country. (with reports from SunStar Philippines)