Senators have expressed alarm at the influx of foreign workers brought in by Chinese construction firms undertaking infrastructure projects in the Philippines.
Senators Panfilo M. Lacson said Senators Joel Villanueva, chairman of the Senate labor committee, and opposition Senator Francis Pangilinan were right in questioning Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark A Villar why foreign workers are given preference instead Filipino workers since there are millions of jobless Filipinos.
‘’Dapat talaga ayusin. Kami naman sa Kongreso mga policy makers din kami katulad ng Malacanang. Dapat pagtulungan talaga namin na matugunan ang pangangailangan gawa ng nangyaring COVID-19,’’ Lacson said. (This must be a remedy to this. We in Congress are only policy makers unlike Malacanang. We all should solve the country’s requirements caused by COVID-!9).
Lacson presided over the public hearing of the proposed 2021 P666.4 billion budget of the DPWH which he later tagged as ‘’mangled beyond recognition’’ by the late submission of suspected ‘’pork barrel’’ appropriations worth more than P400 billion.
Such late submission by the DPWH of its budget to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) was reportedly caused by infighting among members of the 299-member House of Representatives over their ‘’pork barrel’’ allocations.
Lacson earlier forecast a ‘’bloody’’ confrontation between the contingent of the Senate and the House of Representatives at the bicameral conference committee meeting.
Lacson also questioned why the DPWH reduced the budgets for national road and bridge projects in favor of local or community projects.
He also questioned why the DPWH central office slashed tourism-oriented road projects in favor of local projects that supposedly benefit lawmakers’ constitiuencies.
During a radio interview this morning, Lacson said that there is a law prohibiting the entry of foreign workers if such job classifications could be filled up by qualified Filipinos.
‘’Technical lang ang pwede pasukan ng mga foreign workers, tapos kung walang available na local workers, saka tayo kukuha ng foreign workers. Ganoon yan,’’ he said. (Foreign workers with technical skills are allowed to work in the country if such skills could not be filled up locally.)
‘’Ngayon, bakit katakot-takot ang Chinese workers ang gumagawa ng tulay, e wala na bang available na Pilipino na marunong gumawa ng tulay, o kaya mason o kaya karpintero? E napakarami nating ganyan, walang trabaho, bakit kukunin natin Chinese workers?,’’ he asked. (Why are there so many Chinese workers at bridge projects? Are there no one available in the Philippine labor force to build these bridges such as masons and carpenters? We have so many qualified but jobless workers for such jobs. Why bring in foreign workers?)
Aside from being employed in bridge projects in Metro Manila, Chinese workers are also employed in the Kaliwa dam project and railway projects.
During the Marcos administration, the late President ordered that foreign-funded projects must be offered for international bidding which is not being followed by the Duterte administration.