TENS of thousands of Chinese from mainland China have been entering the Philippines as tourists before obtaining short-term special permits to work in online gambling operations, a Senate panel learned on Monday.
At a hearing of the Senate labour committee, Senator Joel Villanueva expressed alarm and indignation after immigration and labour authorities admitted that more than 119,000 “tourists,” most of them from mainland China, were able to skirt labour regulations to gain temporary employment in the country.
These tourist visa holders technically remain tourists even during the three-to-six-month duration of their work assignment in the country.
Thus, their employers need not prove that the jobs cannot otherwise be performed by locals, which is the usual policy for alien workers.
“It’s very clear. Chinese nationals have been stealing our jobs, taking away our homes and pilfering opportunities from Filipinos,” Villanueva said.
He called for stringent regulation of foreign workers in the country.
The Senate panel is looking into the proliferation of presumed illegal workers from China, whose numbers have risen around Metro Manila to a degree that do not match official employment numbers from the Department of Labour and Employment (Dole).
Dole figures show that since 2015, close to 116,000 foreigners have been issued an alien employment permit (AEP), which allows them to work legally in the Philippines.
An AEP will be issued by Dole only if there is no Filipino willing or competent enough to do the job being offered to a foreigner.
The permit is one of the major requirements for the issuance of a work visa for aliens, but officials acknowledge that virtually all AEP holders have been able to get work visas.
Chinese nationals account for the bulk of foreign workers holding AEPs, numbering almost 52,000, or about 45 per cent of the total, mostly working in manufacturing, information and communications, and administrative and support services. INQUIRER/ANN