Senator Urges Secretary to Prioritise Filipino Workers
Based on reports that the government has been hiring many Chinese construction workers for their projects, Senator Francis Pangilinan urged the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to prioritise Filipinos. The DPWH, meanwhile, admitted at the Senate hearing of its P667.32-billion project that Chinese workers account for 30 to 45 per cent of the workforce.
Addressing DPWH Secretary Mark Villar, Pangilinan said that these projects must provide work for Filipinos and that they must be given preferential treatment over foreign manpower - amid the influx of Chinese workers in the country.
He said, “We’re in the middle of the pandemic. Adult unemployment rates are in the mid-to-high 30s. According to a recent SWS survey, our unemployment rate in September was 39.5 per cent, comprising 23.7 million Filipinos. Given the high level of unemployment rate we are facing due to COVID, is the employment of foreign workers a condition for the approval of these ODAs?
For his part, Villar said that Chinese workers are hired because of specialized functions and the technical skills that they possess.
Pangilinan also urged the use of local products in construction and engineering materials to help provide the businesses badly hit by the pandemic. “We have to support our locally made products. The DPWH, with the resources at its disposal, should also put emphasis on local manufacturers and local materials,” he said.
The DPWH has a 2021 budget amounting to P667.324 billion, the second-highest among the departments and its infrastructure budget is P637.885 billion or 57.61 per cent of the total infrastructure outlay allocation of the national government.