MANILA, Philippines – Opposition senatorial candidate Manuel "Mar" Roxas II gave a clear "no" to the influx of Chinese workers into the Philippines during CNN Philippines' election forum on Sunday, January 27.
"No to Chinese workers coming in and replacing Filipinos," was Roxas' answer when asked on Sunday.
Roxas differed from former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque who drew jeers from the crowd when he qualified his answer that Chinese workers are justified in certain industries which need manpower.
"Naniniwala po ako na ang trabaho sa Pilipinas ay para po sa Pilipino. Ang tanong, meron po ba talagang sapat na manggagawa, lalong-lalo na sa mga industriya na nangangailangan?" Roque said amid a chant of boos.
(I believe that jobs in the Philippines are for Filipinos. But the question is, do we have enough workers, especially in industries that need them?)
CNN anchor Pia Hontiveros told the audience, "Please restrain your enthusiasm."
Influx of Chinese workers
Roxas disagreed, saying: "Ano ang pinag-uusapan natin dito? Sa construction, pagkakarpintero, pagtutubero, pagiging mason, kaya ng Pilipino 'yan, maraming Pilipino ang may kayang gampanan ang trabahong 'yan."
(What are we talking about here? Construction, carpentry, plumbing, masonry – Filipinos can do that, there are so many Filipinos who can do those jobs.)
Another senatorial candidate, former interior secretary Raffy Alunan, gave online gambling as an example of an industry that Filipinos have no expertise in, especially in the translation aspect, although he warned that "there's a problem with online gambling."
Roxas spoke more decisively against online gambling, saying it's not good to rely on it to boost the country's economy. (READ: Silent addiction: How Filipinos fall prey to the online gambling market)
"Kasi ang isipin natin, ang dahilan kung bakit nandito 'yang mga online gaming na 'yan, dahil ipinagbabawal sa China. Sila mismo, iligal ito sa kanila, bawal ito sa kanila, kaya tayo ngayon ang nagtatrabaho rito," said Roxas.
(Let's think about it, the reason why there's online gambling here is because China itself has prohibited it, that's why we're doing it here.)
Roxas added: "Kung gano'n ang tulong nila sa atin, 'yung ayuda, 'yung pautang nila sa atin, hindi na bale." (If that's how they will help, their aid, their loan, then no thanks.)
Comparison to OFWs
Opposition candidate Florin Hilbay said that while Chinese workers coming here is the same as Filipinos seeking opportunities abroad, it's another matter when there's corruption involved.
Hilbay also described as "demeaning" the rhetoric that Chinese workers are here to fill gaps in some industries.
"There's a responsibility within government for allowing a substantial amount of Chinese workers to work illegally," Hilbay said.
Roque said there should be an "inventory" of what jobs can be given to foreigners, especially the Chinese, and what should remain solely for Filipinos. – Rappler.com