"We cannot stand idle and let our people reap the negative consequences of the influx of Chinese workers."
Two weeks ago, I expressed my concern on the rising unemployment in the country. My fellow legislators in the Senate raised a similar concern and recently conducted a hearing on the influx of illegal foreign workers in the country. During the hearing, it was found that many of these foreigners are Chinese nationals who enter the Philippines as tourists and then convert their status via alien employment permit (AEP). The Department of Labor and Employment reported that almost 50 percent of the AEPs issued to foreign nationals from 2015 to 2017 were issued to Chinese nationals. Note that our labor laws only allow employment of foreign workers after a determination of the non-availability of a Philippine national who is otherwise competent, able and willing at the time of application to perform the services for which the foreigner is desired.
The Bureau of Immigration reported that this year, out of the 393 foreign nationals arrested for overstaying their visa or lack of working permit, 304 were Chinese. These Chinese nationals are employed in online gaming while some are engaged in construction work. The Bureau of Immigration’s statistics also shows that there is an upward trend in the number of Chinese nationals entering the country since 2015, reaching more than a million in 2017.
Whether through legal or illegal means, the increasing number of Chinese nationals working in the Philippines puts our own nationals in a perilous position, in terms of securing gainful employment. For example, we are befuddled that AEPs are being awarded to foreigners for construction work. Construction work is no doubt within the abilities of any Filipino. In fact, it is one of the most common employment opportunities for many Filipinos who find it difficult to land a permanent job. I see no reason why there is a need to employ Chinese workers for such kind of work.
I am one with my fellow legislators in the Senate on this alarming situation. We cannot stand idle and let our fellow Filipinos suffer the consequences of the perceived lack of the government’s regulatory mechanisms intended to protect the interests of the public. Given the lack of insight of the frontline agencies and poor inter-agency coordination, this situation defeats the intention and efforts of the national government to provide job opportunities to Filipinos.