Labor office to sanction Chico project contractor

THE Chinese contractor of the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project (CRPIP) in Kalinga will be sanctioned if it fails to produce the requirements being asked by the Department of Labor and Employment Cordillera (Dole) Cordillera.

Exequiel Ronie Guzman, Dole regional director, said the Chinese company behind the P4.37-billion CRPIP failed to produce the necessary documents asked by the agency before any work begins.

"What we saw was that they could not produce any of the documents we were looking for during our investigation two weeks ago, and they already admitted that they do not have any alien employment permit (AEP). We already had two hearings in Kalinga and since they could not comply, the case was forwarded to our regional office," Guzman said.

CRPIP is the first flagship infrastructure project to be financed by China under President Rodrigo Duterte's "Build, Build, Build" program. It has since been criticized because it lacked the needed documents.

"They failed to show their alien employment permit, and the construction and safety health program. These were the two areas where we saw the Chinese company committed a major violation which they need to comply. They also failed to show their corresponding pick-up license which is required to them being the contractor of the project," said Guzman.

Pick-up licenses are special licenses foreign companies need to comply according to the Philippine Contractors Board license, when contracting with the Department of Public Works and Highways.

Groups are questioning the constitutionality of the loan agreement between the Philippines and China in the hopes to get a temporary restraining order.

Speculation over the Chico River stems from constitutionality of making patrimonial assets as collateral, as well as agreements on automatic appropriation as the deal takes away the power of the purse from Congress.

The 20-year loan deal for the CRPIP was signed by Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of China Zhao Jianhua and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III in April 2018.

The project seeks to create canals, diverting the water from the Chico River into different areas in Tuao and Piat in Cagayan and Pinukpuk in Kalinga.

"If they will not submit and comply with the requirements for alien employment permit, we will report them to the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation for possible sanctions. So it will be the BID who will take responsibility of whatever violations they may have committed because all foreigners who work in our country needs to secure an alien employment permit," Guzman said.

A hearing at the Dole Cordillera office is set next week.


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