Illegal foreign workers should not be allowed to steal jobs from Filipinos, Vice President Leni Robredo said Tuesday.
Robredo made the position after President Rodrigo Duterte said that illegal Chinese workers in the country can stay since deporting them could mean a backlash for Filipinos who are working in China.
Duterte's spokesman later on clarified that foreign workers without proper working permits and immigration papers will be dealt with by the law.
“Iyong sa akin, hindi naman natin binabawalan iyong citizens ng ibang bansa na magtrabaho dito. Pero very specific kasi iyong batas natin: ang priority, iyong mga Pilipino. Puwede tayong kumuha ng workers galing sa ibang bansa kung walang Pilipino na kaya gawin iyong trabaho. Ang unang tanong, iyong trabaho bang ginagawa nila dito, hindi ba iyon kaya ng Pilipino?" Robredo, a lawyer like Duterte, said in an interview.
“Kasi kung kaya ng Pilipino iyong trabaho nila…[at] ang taas ng unemployment natin—bakit hindi i-prioritize iyong mga Pilipino?” Robredo added.
The Vice President said that Filipinos should also be trained for various skills so that the country will not depend on foreign workers.
“Kung mangangailangan ng special skills na hindi kaya ng Pilipino, saka siguro [mag-hire ng foreigners], pero dapat iyong pinu-pursue natin na path, kailangan ma-train na ng mga Pilipino sa ganoong klaseng specialized na trabaho,” Robredo added.
In separate interviews, Senate bets of administration coalition Hugpong ng Pagbabago also called for the strict implementation of a Labor Code provision mandating the prioritization of Filipino workers for job hiring in the country.
“The President is right to say that there is an issue of diplomacy, but there is a provision in our Labor Code na kung walang qualified na Pinoy sa trabaho, ‘dun lang dapat mag hire ng foreigner. Dapat i-implement ‘yung batas,” Sen. Sonny Angara said after a campaign stop in Navotas.
“We have to protect and prioritize the Filipinos workers at any given time,” Sen. JV Ejercito added.
Former Philippine National Police Chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, for his part, said that no one is above the law.
“An illegal worker is illegal. Dapat, gawin nilang legal ang status nila, mag-comply sila sa requirements. Kung illegal sila, they have to be deported,” dela Rosa said. —LDF, GMA News