Prioritize Filipinos over Chinese workers, gov’t told

Feb. 27, 2019

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The government should prioritize hiring unemployed Filipinos, said opposition solon after President Rodrigo Duterte made a statement that he would rather allow illegal Chinese workers to stay in the country.

Anakpawis representative Ariel Casilao urged President Duterte to hire Filipino workers to work on government projects or create more jobs for the unemployed.

“He promised to create jobs by proposing to rebuild industries and factories, and vowed to end labor contractualization, but we all know now, that they were just ‘trapo’ promises, worse, more Filipino workers are jobless, and rubbing salt to the wound, the number of foreign workers are swelling,” Casilao said.

The Philippines Statistics Authority reported that the unemployment rate in October last year was only 5.1% while underemployment was 13.3%.

However, the Third Quarter 2018 Social Weather Survey found adult joblessness at 22.0% an estimated 9.8 million Filipinos.

This is 2.3 points above the 19.7% (est. 8.6 million adults) in the second quarter of 2018, but 1.8 points below the 23.9% (est. 10.9 million adults) in the first quarter of 2018.

President Duterte earlier said that deporting illegal Chinese workers here might affect the 300,000 Filipinos working in China.

“Let the Chinese workers work here. Why? We have 300,000 Filipinos in China,” Duterte said during a campaign rally of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) in Laguna last Saturday.

“That’s why I can’t…What if they say, ‘Get out of here, you will be deported.’ What if they ask the 300 (thousand Filipinos) to leave?” he added.

Meanwhile, IBON Foundation Executive Director Sonny Africa said it is the government’s job to ensure that Filipino workers are prioritized for local work, as stipulated in the Constitution.

“If Pres. Duterte’s position is the government’s position, it is embarrassingly servile to China and insulting to millions of Filipino workers,” said Africa in a statement.

“And of course it isn’t the government’s job to let illegal workers in the country. Nor to make the illegal legal by presidential fiat,” he added.

IBON, an independent think tank, estimates that the unemployment rate is close to 10% while China’s is just 3.8% or lower.

He added that 150,000 Chinese are legally working while there are 100,000 to 250,000 who are reportedly working illegally in the country.

For Africa, the president’s position is “insulting” given these numbers.

He said many of the 2.3 million unemployed Filipinos are capable of doing the construction-related work allegedly taken by Chinese workers with 1.7 million are ages 15-34, around 1.5 million are male who are fit to work in construction.

Among those who are working, there are 6.7 million underemployed who are looking for more work because they are not earning enough. This includes 1.3 million in the industry subsector which includes construction, he added. (

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