‘Probe Chinese forced laborers’

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BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN

The Department of Labor and Employment and the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation are being asked to investigate the reported rising number of forced Chinese laborers being sent to the Philippines.

Wennie Sancho, secretary general of the General Alliance of Workers Association, yesterday stressed the need for DOLE and the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation to seriously investigate the importation of Chinese workers into the country, especially those being employed by Philippine Online Gambling Corporations (POGO) that are supposedly regulated by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor).

Sancho expressed alarm over the importation of Chinese forced laborers as he noted that they are coming to the country as tourists. He also raised the possibility that some of those being hired are criminals.

The PinoyAksyon for Governance and the Environment (PinoyAksyon) has sounded alarm bells over reports of “illegal and forced” Chinese labor in the country, especially in construction projects.

The group wrote Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri and Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan that “incessant, unabated and illegal influx of Chinese laborers here in the country deprive Filipino workers of livelihood.”

PinoyAksyon said in a statement that “forced labor” is being employed by Chinese companies with projects in the Philippines, and some of them are prisoners sent to the country for involuntary labor.

If true and left unchecked, this could make the country complicit in this blatant violation of human rights laws and International Labor Organization conventions, the group said.

A survey released by the Social Weather Station showed that 70 percent of Filipinos were worried about the rising number of foreign workers in the Philippines.

Should the government not strictly enforce the law on Chinese workers, Sancho said it will also deprive Filipino workers of job opportunities, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

These workers do menial jobs in construction, not specialized technical work, that are clearly violation of PH laws, the PinoyAksyon statement added.

“We have been told by a group of Filipino contractors that thousands of Chinese workers are filling what could have been jobs exclusively for Filipinos. And these Chinese workers enjoy better wages and perks than Filipino workers,” the group said in their letters to Zubiri and Pangilinan.

The latest SWS survey also showed that about seven million Filipinos are experiencing hunger, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even with optimistic projections of unemployment tapering to around 8 percent at the close of the year due to easing of quarantine restrictions and the onset of the Christmas season, PinoyAksyon said the figure is still high compared to normal times.*

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