With the influx of foreign nationals in the labor market, Senator Joel Villanueva on Friday said Filipino employers should give Filipino workers preferential treatment over foreign workers.
Villanueva, chair of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development, said Presidential Decree No. 442, or the Labor Code of the Philippines, should be amended to ensure that 80 percent of Filipino employers’ collective workforce are Filipinos.
“Since 2016, incidents of illegal foreign workers entering our special economic zones caused an uproar due to the grave disproportionality of foreign workers to Filipino workers,” Villanueva said in a statement.
The senator has filed Senate Bill 1508, or an “Act Mandating the Requisite Proportion of Filipino Laborers to Foreign Workers.”
“This mandatory protection will guarantee that Filipinos will always have a fighting chance despite the rapidly shrinking global economy. The State must always uphold and uplift the rights of the Filipino laborer,” Villanueva said.
The Philippines, as a member-country of the International Labor Organization, is mandated to maintain open borders in allowing foreign workers to partake in the country’s labor force.
“However, in a world where unprecedented opportunities exist for global citizens to work in foreign countries, the need for substantive protection for Filipino citizens to meaningful opportunities remains,” Villanueva said.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the unemployment rate of the Philippine working population stands at 5.2 percent as of January 2019.
For foreign employees to work in the country, they must secure an alien employment permit (AEP) from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), which regulates the entry of foreign workers. DOLE vets foreign workers seeking employment here in the country to ensure there are no capable, able, and willing Filipinos to do the job.
Villanueva has been conducting committee hearings on the influx of illegal foreign workers in the country. In 2018, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) reported to the committee that it arrested or charged 167 foreign nationals employed locally without working permits.
Of those arrested, 95 percent, or 159 cases, involved Chinese nationals. Most of them have been arrested for illegal online gambling.
“The information we received from the NBI offers another perspective that we need to consider in this pressing problem of illegal foreign workers using loopholes in our system to take away jobs that Filipinos can do,” Villanueva said. (source: bagong senado)