Robredo to Duterte gov’t: ‘Be more firm’ vs all illegal foreign workers

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo said the government should be “firm” against the entry of all illegal foreign workers to the Philippines, not just the influx of Chinese laborers.  

On Thursday, May 2, reporters at Donsol, Sorsogon sought the Vice President for comment after illegal Chinese workers were spotted in a construction site in Manila. 

“Iyong sa akin hindi lang iyong construction workers pero iyong pagpasok ng iligal, iyong illegal iyong stay… So iyong ninanais natin, sana iyong gobyerno mas firm – mas firm sa pag-treat ng, hindi lang ng mga Chinese, pero mga illegal migrants in general. Kasi iyong proteksyon din at saka welfare ng bawat Pilipino, iyon dapat iyong sinasaisip,” said Robredo.

(I’m not only talking about construction workers, but also illegal entry… What we hope is for the government to more firm in treating not just the Chinese, but all illegal migrants in general. Because the protection and welfare of every Filipino should be prioritized.)

Industry insiders estimate around 100,000 to 250,000 Chinese workers are in the Philippines, with most of them hired through the Philippine Online Gambling Operations.  (READ: How China’s online gambling addiction is reshaping Manila

The Bureau of Immigration said it issued 185,000 special work permits (SWPs) from January to November 2018. Of the total 72,010 current valid SWPs, 64,087 have been given to Chinese nationals. 

Several government officials and various groups already expressed concern over the influx of Chinese workers, especially those who enter the Philippines without legal working permits.  (READ: No to Chinese workers replacing Filipinos – Mar Roxas)

But President Rodrigo Duterte said in February he does not favor deporting illegal Chinese workers from the Philippines, adding that their number here "equals" the number of undocumented Filipino workers in China. 

Filipino first

Robredo, however, said the presence of these illegal workers would mean less jobs for Filipinos, the people whom the Duterte government should be prioritizing in the first place.  

“Iyong sa akin lang, kung ang sadya dito sa atin, trabaho, eh 'di kumuha ng maayos na visa para nare-regulate ng pamahalaan. Pero para iyong pamahalaan mismo iyong mag-tolerate, tingin ko mali iyon. Kasi halimbawa, pagbigay, pagbibigay ng working visa, kailangan titingnan niyan. Wala bang Pilipinong mawawalan ng pagkakataon na magtrabaho dahil sa kanila?” asked Robredo.

(For me, if they want to work in our country, then they should get the proopoer visa so the government could regulate them. But for the government itself to tolerate this, I think that’s wrong. For example, in granting working visas, it has to be checked. Are there Filipinos who would be losing their chance to work because of them?) 

The Vice President is also concerned that most of the Chinese workers working legally in the Philippines are in online gambling, an industry banned in China. 

“Eh iyong sugal, kaya sila pumapasok sa Pilipinas kasi bawal nga ito sa China. So iyong bawal ba sa China dito sa atin gagawin? So na-e-endanger iyong morals, na-e-endanger iyong kabuhayan ng bawat Pilipino,” said Robredo. 

(The reason why they’re entering the Philippines is because gambling is illegal in China. So what’s illegal in China, they will do here? So the morals, livelihood of every Filipinos are being endangered here.) – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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