Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Sunday said that Chinese nationals who hold working permits in the country are just filling vacancies for jobs that Filipinos cannot or would not do, according to a report by Dano Tingcungco on GMA's 24 Oras Weekend.
"'Yun lang naman kasing mga may alien employment permit, kaya sila binigyan ng permit, dahil 'yung trabahong gagawin nila dito ay 'di kaya ng mga Pilipino. O kaya, kahit kaya, ayaw," Bello said in an interview on GMA's Super Radyo dzBB, which was cited in the report.
Bello had earlier already made the point that Alien Employment Permits (AEPs) will only be issued to foreigners if Filipino citizens cannot perform the job in question.
It is not clear which jobs are now going to Chinese workers because Filipinos do not want to do them.
Recruitment and migration expert Emmanuel Geslani previously said that the Philippine construction industry is experiencing a serious lack of skilled workers and that the employment gap is being filled by some Chinese laborers who are receiving thrice the salary of the locals.
On Saturday, President Rodrigo Duterte said that he cannot simply drive away the Chinese nationals working in the Philippines because he is thinking of the welfare of the Filipinos working in China who may be massively laid off as a consequence.
"'Yung mga Chinese dito, hayaan mo 'yan na dito magtrabaho, hayaan mo. Bakit? We have 300,000 Filipinos in China. Kaya hindi ako maka-sabing, 'o umalis kayo dito, i-deport ka doon.' Eh kung biglang paalisin 'yun doon 300 [thousand] of them, just like in the Middle East?" he said.
Bello said in the radio interview that Duterte was simply saying that legal foreign workers in the country must not be troubled, considering that many Filipinos also go abroad to make a living.
Illegal alien workers, he added, shall be dealt with accordingly.
According to DOLE, a special work permit (SWP) is issued to a "foreign national who shall engage in gainful employment for three to six months"—that is, an SWP is valid for three months and may be renewed for another three months.
If the employment is for more than six months, the foreign national must apply for an AEP which, said DOLE, are issued to foreign individuals who do highly technical, specialized, supervisory and managerial work that cannot be met by the Philippine market.
Labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), however, questioned the President's logic on the employment issue.
"Hindi naman basat ide-deport 'yung mga tao natin. Ibig bang sabihin sa kagandahang loob lang ng Tsino kaya 300,000 ang manggagawang Pilipino doon? Hindi. Kailangan nila 'yun," KMU national chairperson Elmer Labog said.
"Nasa crisis situation ang trabaho sa ating bansa. Hindi patas ang 300,000 na legal entrants na Pilipino sa China, kasama na ang Hong Kong diyan, doon sa sinasabing mga iligal na Chinese workers dito," he added.
The Senate labor committee previously opened a probe on the influx of illegal foreign workers in the country following the arrest 78 Chinese in an illegal online gambling center in Pasig City in 2018. — BM, GMA News