The influx of Chinese nationals in the Philippines is concerning enough, but them being prioritized over Filipinos for things most Pinoys already have a hard time securing, such as jobs and decent housing? Something’s not right here.
Such was the concern ever since Filipinos started noticing how Chinese nationals have been filling the country’s streets and neighborhoods over the past couple of years — a large number of which some government officials, like Senator Joel Villanueva, believe are working here illegally.
This is due to the booming business of Philippine offshore gaming operators, also known as “POGOS,” that require employees that can speak Chinese — which had the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) issue around 51,980 Alien Employment Permits (AEPs) to Chinese workers from 2015 to 2016 that came up to about 169,000 by February 2019.
However, over the past couple of years, many including Sen. Villanueva, have observed how Chinese nationals have sprawled around the country, giving the impression that there might be way more than the declared numbers of Chinese workers that have been granted entry into the Philippines.
“You go to shopping malls, condominiums. You’d think you were in China. I believe there are more than 200,000 (Chinese workers) here now… They are not just in gaming. They’re also in restaurants, construction, mining,” Sen. Villanueva said in a quote cited in a November 2018 article by The Straits Times.
According to the same article, former labor secretary, Senator Franklin Drilon said that “there could be as many as 400,000 Chinese working for gaming operators and other outsourcing companies that mostly service clients in China.”
What’s more is, according to an article by ABS-CBN News, Sen. Villanueva suspects that the 185,000 special working permits (different from AEPs by DOLE) issued by the Bureau of Immigration (as of February 2019) might be fraudulent.
“It’s glaring… Your records show you are issuing few alien employment permits [AEPs] but there’s a flood [of Chinese workers] and from their numbers, it’s clear there are illegal workers,” Sen. Villanueva said to officials of DOLE and the Bureau of Immigration (BI) in a quote cited in another article on the topic by South China Morning Post in late 2018.
The bottom line? The declared numbers of Chinese nationals in the Philippines do not reflect what locals currently see around them, potentially implying that those working in non-gaming sectors likely do not have legitimate permits, and therefore are illegally working in the Philippines and possibly taking jobs that should be given to Filipinos.
Further, Sen. Villanueva also expressed concern over how this inrush problem hasn’t just led to Chinese migrants taking jobs from Filipinos, but it has also led to migrants occupying real estate supposedly developed for Pinoys.
“With so many of them coming here, they are not just robbing Filipinos of jobs, but they’re also taking away our homes,” Sen. Villanueva’s quote in the Straits Times article said, in mention of a viral post on Facebook about a property agent scouting for 400 condominium units for about 3,000 Chinese employees. Sen. Villanueva’s statement also pertained to the rising property prices of real estate in the Philippines.
In a more recent news article by Inquirer, a 26-year-old woman was apparently “evicted” by her landlord back in June from the apartment she was renting in Makati to give way to the Chinese nationals who are willing and able to pay more in rent fees.
The woman was told that tenants were asked to move out because their place needed some renovating. However, the 26-year-old already had a hunch that it was so their place could be rented out by Chinese nationals.
Such are the issues and inconveniences Filipinos have been subjected to ever since President Rodrigo Duterte made the resolve to create closer ties with China. But has that resolve put the interest of Chinese nationals, including those possibly working in the country illegally, over the interest of Filipinos? While that’s exactly how it feels, we can’t actually say that our government is guilty of this.
According to Philippine law, foreigners can freely take jobs Filipinos are not currently capable of taking — such as the jobs in the POGO industry that require Chinese language skills. Sen. Villanueva also said in the article by ABS-CBN that Article 12, Section 12 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution is a sacred order through which Filipino labor will always be given preference. However, he also mentioned that “mechanisms should be in place to ensure that Filipinos get hired in emerging industries.”
“Wala ho tayong problema sa pagpasok ng foreign workers sa bansa. Siguruhin lang natin tama ‘yung proseso, maayos, hindi mangbubuhos ng taho sa ating kapulisan, hindi mabalitaang nangchop-chop, nanuntok ng Pilipina sa isang bar.” Sen. Villanueva reminded.
The Philippines has always been a hospitable nation. And we can only hold out hope that those who govern it and make diplomatic negotiations on our behalf won’t let one of the best and well-appreciated things about our beautiful country be taken advantage of. Here’s hoping.