More controls on entry of Chinese workers looming

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THE CABINET is working on a set of rules to be enforced across various agencies that will require foreign workers to acquire work permits and taxpayer identification numbers, signaling a crackdown on the unchecked entry of Chinese workers, the official said.

The President’s spokesman Salvador S. Panelo said in a statement Tuesday that the agencies agreed to the new requirements at a meeting with President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Monday night.

In the statement, Mr. Panelo said that the agencies working on the circular are the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Finance (DoF), Department of Justice (DoJ), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), Bureau of Immigration (BI), and National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA).

The joint memorandum circular, according to Mr. Panelo, will require foreign nationals to first “secure an alien employment permit, a working visa, and a tax identification number before they can be permitted to work in the country.”

In a briefing, Mr. Panelo said foreign workers allowed entry will be limited to “specialized” jobs that Filipino workers cannot currently fill and can learn from.

“We will just get them kung hindi kaya ng Pilipino (We will only admit workers who can do jobs Filipinos are not capable of) — kung specialized; and then you can learn from them, ‘di ba (We can learn from their specializations). Iyon nga ang sinasabi ni Secretary Bello (As Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III has said), kapag mayroong highly specialized workers coming from abroad na nagtatrabaho rito, iyong mga workers natin will learn from them; and then, we don’t need them anymore (we can learn from highly specialized workers from overseas until our own workers learn the work and we don’t need them anymore),” he said.

More than half of the 45,000 work permits issued by the Labor Department in 2017 were given to Chinese nationals, according to the agency’s latest available data. The number of Chinese workers who secured permits doubled in 2016 to 18,000 when Mr. Duterte assumed the presidency and fostered friendlier ties with Beijing.

Also during the Cabinet meeting, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. and Undersecretary Sarah Lou Y. Arriola reported on the status of overseas Filipino workers who are affected by the conflict in Libya.

The officials, according to Mr. Panelo, said that there are over “2,000” Filipinos in Libya with “70 of them availing of the repatriation program of the government while most are still waiting for their back wages.” — Arjay L. Balinbin