NAVOTAS, Philippines – Illegal Chinese workers should be given a chance to abide by Philippine law before being deported, said former police chief and now senatorial bet Ronald dela Rosa.
"Illegal is illegal, 'di ba? Kung illegal, eh di dapat gawing legal," he said on Tuesday, February 26, in Navotas City.
(Illegal is illegal, right? If they are illegal, they should be made legal.)
Asked how he would make illegal Chinese workers legal, Dela Rosa said, "Dapat kunin nila lahat ng requirements, ano mga requirements na kailangan para maging legal sila, gawin nila."
(They should get all the requirements, all the requirements needed for them to be legal, they should fulfill those.)
If the Chinese workers aren't able to meet the "minimum requirements," that's when they should be deported, explained the former top cop.
"Illegal sila, eh di they have to be deported, kung illegal ha. Kung may paraan na maging legal, macomply nila 'yung mga requirements. Depende na sa Bureau of Immigration 'yan," said Dela Rosa.
(They are illegal so they have to be deported, if they are illegal. If there is a way for them to become legal, they should comply with the requirements. That depends on the Bureau of Immigration already.)
He had initially been asked to react specifically to Duterte's remarks, but Dela Rosa said he would have a hard time commenting since he himself did not hear the President say those words.
Last Saturday, February 23, Duterte said illegal Chinese workers should just be allowed to work in the Philippines because Filipino workers in China who should have also been deported are not deported.
"'Yung mga Chinese dito, hayaan mo 'yan na dito magtrabaho. Hayaan mo. Bakit? We have 300,000 Filipinos in China kaya hindi ako makasabi, 'O, umalis kayo dito. Deport ka doon,'" Duterte said.
(Allow the Chinese to work here. Let them be. Why? We have 300,000 Filipinos in China that's why I can't say, "Oh, leave this country. We'll have you deported.")
Angara, Ejercito: Prioritize Filipino workers
Dela Rosa's fellow Hugpong ng Pagbabago candidates had a different take on the matter.
Reelectionist senators JV Ejercito and Sonny Angara said Filipino workers must be prioritized over foreign workers.
"Of course, we have to protect our Filipino workers. We have to give them priority at any given time," Ejercito told reporters in Navotas.
Angara said Duterte was right that the issue of Chinese workers in the country is a diplomatic one given the presence of many Filipino workers in other countries.
But like Ejercito, he said jobs in the Philippines must go to qualified Filipinos first.
"Mayroon tayong probisyon sa batas, na kapag mag kwalipikadong Filipino, hindi dapat mag-hire ng foreigner, so siguro implement na lang 'yung nasa batas," Angara told media.
(We have a provision in the law that says if there are qualified Filipinos for a certain job, foreigners should not be hired for it, so I guess just implement what's in the law.)
Opposition candidate Mar Roxas has taken a similar but more strongly worded stance on illegal Chinese workers.
"No to Chinese workers coming in and replacing Filipinos,” he had said in a CNN Philippines forum last January.
Another opposition bet, former solicitor general Florin Hilbay, said the government must take responsibility for allowing plenty of Chinese to work illegally in the country. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.