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Zubiri wants to limit entry of foreign contractors in Philippines

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri on Thursday said he is preparing a bill seeking to limit the entry of foreign contractors in the country to ensure that Filipino workers in the construction industry will not be displaced in their own land.

Zubiri, in an online interview, said the Supreme Court recently came out with a decision on the implementation of Republic Act 4566 or the Contractors' License Law.

"According to the Supreme Court, it does not limit foreign firms from getting contractors' licenses whether large or small," he said.

"Technically, it will now allow contractors from different countries China, India, na pumasok dito sa ating bansa and participate even sa maliliit na projects sa mga barangay... Imagine yung paggawa ng kanal puwede nilang applyan, puwede silang sumama sa bidding," he added.

Under this scenario, foreign construction workers might actually be prioritized instead of local ones.

Zubiri said the bill that he would file would amend RA 4566 and specify certain limits to prevent foreign contractors from taking away infrastructure projects from local companies.

"Kung hindi po, baka sa buong Pilipinas mga Chinese na po ang nagtatrabaho ng mga kanal, mga kalsada, ng mga maglalagay ng water systems sa mga barangay... Anong klaseng pump priming ng ekonomiya 'yan kung ganiyan po ang mangyayari?" he said.

Zubiri said he would be proposing a cap on project size to determine which projects foreign contractors can participate in.

"We will limit it maybe to projects that are P2 billion and above," he said.

"They can participate but the main bulk of their workforce—we will come up with a number whether it's 80% or 90%—will be Filipinos," he added.

During a budget hearing on Wednesday, Public Works and Highways chief Mark Villar said foreign workers are being hired in infrastructure projects in the country because they possess required technical skills. -MDM, GMA News