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Senator planning bill setting limits on foreign construction workers

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construction worker steel bar
REUTERS

A BILL limiting the participation of foreign workers and firms in construction projects and according priority to Filipino workers is being drafted in the Senate.

“I’m planning to file a bill which will limit the entry of foreign construction companies,” Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel F. Zubiri said at an online briefing Thursday.

This follows a Senate hearing on the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways, in which senators raised concerns about the influx of foreign workers in infrastructure projects.

Mr. Zubiri said he is open to employing foreign workers for highly technical jobs, provided that up to 90% of the workers employed are Filipinos.

“Definitely… we should allow (foreign workers) when it comes to highly-skilled engineers, technical know-how. (The) construction engineers (may be) foreign workers… They’re called foreign consultants,” he said.

Ibigay na natin ‘yang masonry works sa ating mga kababayan, (let’s reserve the masonry work to Filipinos), which should be 90% of the project in terms of workforce.”

Mr. Zubiri said the bill will amend Republic Act No. 4566, the “Contractors’ License Law,” which at present provides no limits on the entry of foreign firms and workers in the construction industry. He cited the Supreme Court ruling that struck down the nationality requirement in granting licenses.

He said he will include a provision that will allow foreign contractors to participate in big-ticket infrastructure projects, leaving the small ones exclusively for Filipino contractors.

“We will limit it maybe to projects that are P2 billion and above… projects that may need foreign assistance, but even then, the main bulk of their workforce… will be Filipino hires,” he said.

“They may participate in large flagship projects but their workforce should be 80 to 90% Filipinos, that’s what we are going to study in the committee hearings.” — Charmaine A. Tadalan

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