Palace ignores Aquino concern on surge of Chinese workers in PH
MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Thursday laughed off former president Benigno S. Aquino III’s concern about the entry of too many Chinese workers in the Philippines.
Aquino, during a book launch forum on Tuesday in Manila, said President Rodrigo Duterte should look into the surge of Chinese construction workers in the country.
“Ito naman si dating Presidente. Noong panahon mo eh… ‘di na ko magsasalita. ‘Kaw talaga,” a grinning Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
He then turned serious saying the country lacked Filipino construction workers because they went abroad to work.
“If he is concerned, we will also be concerned, if his basis is correct. What was his basis? Was it a statistics made by him or by his group? Where did he get that information?” Panelo asked.
The Palace official said he was “not surprised” with the surge of Chinese workers in the country.
“I am not surprised because when I learned na walang maraming workers dito at maraming Chinese, I felt na kaya pala, kaya pala biglang madaming Chinese dito,” he said.
“If they came here through lawful means then I am not alarmed. I will be alarmed if they are here because they violated the law,” he added.
Panelo said the problem lies with the diaspora of many Filipino workers.
“I think the problem is, first, wala nga tayong mga construction workers na ngayon dahil nagpuntahan sa abroad. Pangalawa, ‘yung mga technical skills nitong mga umalis hindi nailipat sa mga anak nila, sa mga pamangkin nila, o sa mga kapitbahay nila,” he said.
Panelo shared his and the President’s conversation with Henry Sy Jr. during their visit to the wake of SM founder Henry Sy Sr.
“[Henry Sy Jr.] was I think mentioning something about their construction is delayed because we lack carpenters, welders and those construction workers, and the President agreed,” he said.
The President, Panelo said, responded saying he told Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) chief Isidro Lapeña about the importance of his department, citing “we lack so many construction workers.”
“Siguro that’s why maraming Chinese na kinukuha dahil walang mga Pilipino. Maraming Pilipinong walang trabaho and yet they lack the skill so we need to teach them,” Panelo said.
While he admitted the exodus of Filipino construction workers abroad was not the fault of Tesda, he said the agency “has to do something about it.”
“Kung halimbawa, suddenly we have 300,000 construction workers, eh biglang nagpuntahan sa abroad ano naman ang kasalanan ng TESDA dun?” he said.
“TESDA has to do something about it. ‘Pag na realize nila na may problema na tayo do’n and then it has to do something training people with no jobs, no employment to fill up the vacuum. That’s precisely why the President said that your department is very important. In other words, may instructions na siya: do something about it,” he added.
He also said the surge of Chinese construction workers in the country is “probably the reality now.”
He cited a personal experience, saying it took him six months to look for a carpenter for his house.
“My personal experience is, I have been looking for a carpenter for six months, nakakuha lang ako after six months. In other words talagang wala, pati ‘yung welder naghahanap din ako para doon sa aking gate wala akong makuha. Whatever happened to them?” he said.
“Kasi ‘yung mga workers daw nga natin ngapunta na sa abroad so wala nang natira. Puro nasa abroad. May problema talaga tayo,” he added. /kga
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