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DPWH's Villar: Foreign workers employed in infra projects due to required technical skills

Public Works Secretary Mark Villar on Wednesday said foreign nationals are being employed in the country's infrastructure projects because of the required technical skills they possess. 

During a Senate hearing on the proposed P666.47-billion budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for 2021, Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan asked if hiring Chinese nationals is a condition to get an infrastructure deal inked.

"No, it is not a condition. A lot of these new projects, they do come with new technologies and it will require some specialization. Therefore, sometimes, in some of our projects, you see some level of foreign workers, not necessarily Chinese. We have Japanese, we have Korean... There are certain special skills that they have that we need in order to complete the project," Villar said.

"A majority are still Filipinos, an overwhelming majority are still Filipinos," he added.

The DPWH chief added that he views it as part of technology transfer which will ultimately be beneficial for the country. 

DPWH Undersecretary Emil Sadain also explained that Filipinos still outnumber Chinese workers employed in two bridge projects in Manila.

For the construction of the Estrella-Pantaleon bridge, 69% of the workers are Filipinos while 31% are Chinese.

On the other hand, 55% of the workers in the Binondo-Intramuros project are Filipinos and the remaining 45% are Chinese.

Sadain explained that the ratio varies depending on the technical specifications and materials that are being used in the projects.

Pangilinan underscored that the construction industry registered tha largest drop in employment in the second quarter of 2020 at 30%.

"It is really imperative for the government to be able to create jobs and also protect existing jobs," he said.

Villar said the DPWH is one with the senator's advocacy to create more job opportunities for Filipinos. —KG, GMA News