MANILA – Add the voice of senior Senator Panfilo Lacson to the cacophony decrying the alleged Chinese ‘invasion’ of the Philippines.
On Wednesday, April 3, presidential ally Lacson asked the Duterte administration to explain why it was tolerating the presence of tens of thousands of Chinese workers in the country despite having no work permit and taking jobs that Filipino workers could easily fill.
“Why are we accommodating Chinese workers to the detriment of our own construction workers?” he asked.
Officially, only workers for Chinese-owned gaming companies are allowed to work in the Philippines in large numbers. However, the number of Chinese workers at construction sites has become noticeable, supposedly serving as “technical consultants.”
The supposed consultants were, however, seen to be performing manual labor.
Also this week, a Chinese dredging boat was spotted off the coast of Batangas, reportedly preparing to harvest sand.
Residents of the fishing village of Lobo were alarmed after learning of a plan to take tons of sand from their river, which would then be shipped to Hongkong to build a runway for the territory’s international airport.
The 99-meter long MV Herald had an all-Chinese crew and had oddly enough docked near a town that has no pier. Officers of the ship did not even inform the local government unit of their arrival.
It is not known how many Chinese workers are now in the Philippines.
By December of last year, when it became apparent that tens of thousands of Chinese had entered and were already working in the country, Senator Joel Villanueva castigated the Bureau of Immigration as well as the Department of Labor and Employment for admitting that they did not know how many of them were in the country legally. The number of alien employment permits granted was only in small numbers yet they were visible in the various business centers in the tens of thousands.
Villanueva describe the influx of Chinese workers as a “flood.”
The influx of Chinese workers began when President Duterte signed into law a bill allowing online gaming companies to operate in the country last year. Chinese gaming companies immediately made their presence felt in business centers where business process outsourcing (BPO, also known as call centers) firms had proliferated.
The Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines recently expressed alarm over the development of Chinese workers doing manual labor in local worksites, even if they are privately-owned ones. The labor group said it was distressing enough “that foreign workers are employed in government projects funded by Chinese financial institutions.”
What is more alarming, the group added, is that foreign workers “are also employed in privately funded projects.”
The Constitution states that Filipinos must be given priority for jobs that they can do as well as anyone. Manual labor falls under this category.
As far back as the middle of last year, former defense secretary Norberto Gonzales had already warned of a possible Chinese invasion.
China’s setting up of “defense bases” within Philippine territory was one sign that a Chinese invasion was within the realm of the possible.
In the first quarter of this year, the military reported that “hundreds” of Chinese fishing vessels escorted by military boats had been shooing away Filipino fishermen in the waters off Pag-asa island, well within Philippine territory.