The growing presence of thousands of Chinese workers in the Philippines has become a cause of concern for some Filipinos, even as the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) defended issuing half of all Alien Employment permits (AEPs) to these Chinese nationals.
According to a Tuesday report on GMA News TV program "State of the Nation with Jessica Soho", Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III had revealed during a recent budget hearing that around 25,000 of over 40,000 AEPs issued in the last two years were given to Chinese workers.
Grilled on the possible impact this would have on employment opportunities for Filipinos, Bello explained, "They will only issue these permits to foreigners if the foreigner performs a job that cannot be performed by a Filipino citizen."
The Bureau of Immigration (BI), for its part, said it was intent on cracking down on all illegal aliens regardless of their nationality.
"Not just Chinese but also other nationals coming to the country," BI spokesperson Dana Sandoval said. "Nakikita po natin, 'yung iba sa kanila, nag-convert to working visa. 'Yung mga nakukuha nating reports na illegal workers, tinutugis po 'yan."
‘Cause of concern’
However, for filmmaker Mark Meily found the matter troubling.
"It's a cause of concern because we are in a situation where our sovereignty ng Philippines is being challenged," Meily explained.
"Normally kasi, if you see a lot of foreigners, a lot of Chinese, I am not alarmed. But, obviously, these people are not here as tourists... and then they are not investors."
Meily added that he did not believe that these Chinese expats were creating business that would offer employment to Filipinos. "Hindi ito nag-e-Airbnb. Ito 'yung makikita mong naka-tsinelas, naka-short, very, very casual," he argued.
Meily said the strong presence of Chinese nationals in the country had rapidly become noticeable in other aspects of society, as well.
"Pagpasok ko, merong mga grupo ng customers and they are smoking. This is Makati ha, so bawal doon mag-smoke sa public places. They don't speak Filipino and then, later on, ang dami," he said.
"This happened in a span of a year, ang dami na sa Yakal na mga restaurants, businesses, na walang English or Filipino signs," he added.
Meily also noted that the proliferation of movie posters and advertisements bearing only Chinese characters.
"Obviously, they are catering to a specific market," he said. — Margaret Claire Layug/DVM, GMA News