The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Friday said it is investigating the news report on the alleged presence of Chinese workers at a construction site in Manila.
Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said he already instructed Labor Undersecretary Ana C. Dione to look into the concern of the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) regarding the presence of foreign workers, even in privately funded construction projects.
A news team from ABS-CBN went to a construction site in Ermita, Manila site to interview the workers and the contractor.
The Chinese contractor admitted having 50 Filipino and 15 Chinese workers.
“Undersecretary Dione said they will be conducting the inspection today [Friday],” Bello said in an interview.
“They will be verifying if they are indeed Chinese workers,” he added.
He noted the supposed Chinese workers likely do not have the necessary Alien Employ Permit (AEP) to work in the country since they are involved in doing menial construction work.
An AEP is a document issued by DOLE to a foreigner to enable them to work in the country for more than six months.
“The chances that they have AEP is very remote because if it is construction work…because these are works and services that can be performed by Filipinos,” Bello said.
In case it is proven, the supposed Chinese workers do not possess AEPs, they will face possible automatic deportation from the Bureau of Immigration (BI).
Bello explained the foreign workers will no longer be given the chance to apply for an AEP since they already violated local regulations.
TUCP President Raymond Mendoza expressed alarm over the presence of unauthorized foreign construction workers in the country, which he said takes away valuable employment opportunities from Filipino workers.
He reiterated his call on the government to improve the necessary pay and qualification of local construction workers to deter foreign workers from applying for the said position.
“Government must respond right away. It is high time to raise the salary and benefits of construction workers to keep them from working abroad. At the same time we have to modernize and certify more workers with multi-skills so that they can be qualified across the entire duration of the building project,” Mendoza said.
He also urged DOLE to review its “flawed” labor market test for AEP applicants.
Under a labor market test, DOLE publishes the name of the AEP applicant as well as the position he or she applying for to give Filipino workers the chance to oppose their possible entry in the local work force.
“This labor market test is flawed because construction workers are not aware of any publication, nor do they file protests or have the means and access to complain against the foreign worker applicants. With this loophole, foreign workers are performing the jobs for Filipinos,” Mendoza said.
DOLE is currently coordinating with other government agencies to review its permit system for foreign workers to make it more stringent.
Among the proposed reforms of DOLE include coming up with shortlist of positions which foreign workers could apply and to make it mandatory for them to get a work visa before coming to the country.