Press Release
November 28, 2018


*Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on the reported influx of illegal Chinese workers in the country

I believe that we live in a modern, tolerant and inclusive society open to all nationalities. We are a very neighborly country. Our hospitality and acts of solidarity are world-renowned.

Foreign workers, including Chinese workers, who fully comply with the laws of our land and respect the rights of Filipino workers are very welcome in our country. We demand the same from our countrymen and women working abroad and hosted by foreign countries.

Filipinos and the Chinese have a long history of working together. We have exchanged technology and shared skills on farming and infrastructure. We have helped each other during times of calamities. We share a common culture and heritage.

It is for these reasons that there is strong public outrage over the reported influx of illegal Chinese workers in the country, especially at a time when many of us are suffering from unmitigated inflation and unemployment. It is a direct assault on our sovereignty and economy. In the case of Chinese workers in the Philippine Off-shore Gaming Operators (POGO) industry, they are not desperate workers from a poor country forced to go abroad and seek job opportunities in a rich country. These are citizens of a superpower nation coming to a developing country to take advantage of our lax laws and government negligence.

Moreover, the Chinese government's indifference and lack of strong action on this matter, the threat of a debt trap from Chinese loans and their continuing incursions into our national territory seem to point to a concerted effort to undermine our national integrity. These are not the actions of a friendly state but rather of a bully who thinks our country is its province and playground.

I call on the Duterte government to take strong actions to address this issue. First, it must ensure that jobs which Filipino workers are qualified for be made available to us. It must also assure that workers have the widest access to retraining and retooling programs to keep up with changes in the workplace and develop new skills to respond to modern work life and the dawn of automation.

Second, the government must see to it that the POGO industry is strictly regulated, revenues are monitored, taxes are paid and our facilities are not used to commit crimes.

Third, I call for total transparency in the agreements signed by the Philippine government with China. The government should bare all the details of the said agreements. Are there provisions that guarantee the employment of Chinese nationals in our infrastructure projects to the great detriment of Filipino workers? How do they affect our immigration and labor laws and even the Constitution?

As a country with a large number of citizens working abroad, we are not against foreign workers. What we oppose is the government's negligence and timidity on this issue that has made our people, particularly Filipino workers, second class citizens in their own country.

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