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Bello appeals to public: Be kind to Chinese workers

Bello appeals to public: Be kind to Chinese workers

NO PROPER PAPERS Chinese workers illegally employed in a Pogo company were arrested recently. —RICHARD REYES

MANILA, Philippines — Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Monday appealed to the public “to be a little kind” to Chinese workers amid mounting concerns that these foreigners were already taking away jobs from Filipinos.

Echoing President Rodrigo Duterte’s previous statements, Bello said the public should take note of the supposed kindness the Chinese were showing for the “over 300,000” Filipinos working illegally in China.

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“You know, we have to be a little kind to the Chinese because they are very kind to us. How may illegal workers do we have in China? A little over 300,000,” Bello said.

“And then we’d vilify them even if they’re doing nothing. It’s all false reports that they are in the thousands, but when we inspect [an establishment] there’s nothing,” he added.

Bello did not say how he arrived at his estimate of the number of illegal Filipino workers in China.

Working legally in China

Recent available data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration showed that when President Dutert took office in 2016, only 9,166 Filipinos were working legally in China.

The figure was 39.6 percent higher than the 6,500 in 2015, when the Philippines was at odds with its giant neighbor over claims in the South China Sea.

While the international arbitral tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines in 2016, the Presidennt chose to set aside the ruling in exchange for loans and better ties with China.

The noticeable increase in the number of Chinese workers in the Philippines, especially in major urban areas, has stirred concerns that they have taken away jobs meant for Filipinos.

In Boracay alone, Chinese establishments there were reportedly staffed by Chinese.

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But Bello noted that his department “has not received any report of [any] business establishment in Boracay hiring foreign workers.”

Records from the Department of Labor and Employment, however, shows that 151 foreigners, 47 of whom are Chinese, are holders of alien employment permits in Boracay.

Stricter regulations

Bureau of Local Employment chief Dominique Tutay noted though that most of these workers were “skilled and professionals.”

But Bello said that while foreign investments were welcome, they will “not allow any foreign worker to work in the Philippines if the work they will do can be done by a Filipino.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Risa Hontiveros has called on government agencies to impose stricter regulations on Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos) and to make sure they are complying with Philippine laws.

The rise of Pogos in the country has led to an increase in the number of Chinese businesses and workers in the country.

“The drive to profit from Chinese-led offshore gaming must not be at the expense of the welfare and interests of Filipinos,” Hontiveros said in a statement.

The senator has a pending resolution calling for an inquiry into online gaming in the Philippines.

She noted reports saying that 130,000 Chinese Pogo workers were not registered with the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

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