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Pangilinan: Laws enough to limit foreign workers in Phl projects

Hananeel Bordey

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There are enough laws that limit foreign workers from participating in the projects in the Philippines, Senator Francis Pangilinan said on Sunday.

“Sa totoo lang, the law is sufficient, the law said local employment, at highly technical lang saka pupunta sa dayuhan, we have to stand up for our Filipino workers,” Pangilinan said in a radio interview.

Pangilinan further explained that the law prioritizes local employment and only allows foreigners’ participation for highly-technical processes in the projects.

“Ang tanong dito, ‘yung 45% ba na yun highly-technical? Kalahati? Mga engineer ba ito? Anong kaya nila na ‘di kaya gawin ng Filipino? Ano ang health protocols? These contracts were entered prior to COVID. Now, milyon-milyon ang walang trabaho. ‘Yan ang priority natin,” he said.

Pangilinan said the Departments of Labor and Employment and Public Works and Highways should be the ones to scrutinize the employment of foreign workers.

The government should also do an inventory on the displaced overseas Filipino workers (OFW) who may also have skills for different infrastructure projects.

Pangilinan mentioned anew that they will ask the DPWH to provide a breakdown on the said 31 percent foreign workers in the Pantaleon bridge and the 45 percent in a project in Binondo.

“Sa buong mundo, hinahanap ang Filipinos. Our skills are really world class…May P660 billion ang budget ng DPWH sa darating na taon at ang laking prosyento infrastructure. Prioritize workers, prioritize manufacturers na naghihingalo rin na kailangan ng government intervention. ‘Wag natin pabayaan na whoever foreign investment skill ay sila ang priority,” he said.

Last week, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said he will file a bill limiting the entry of foreign construction companies in the Philippines as a recent Supreme Court decision allow employment of more foreigners employment than Filipinos.

The bill he intends to file amend RA 4566 so that the law itself will limit the participation of foreign companies in different projects.

The lawmaker announced these after senators raised concern on the employment of foreign workers, mostly Chinese workers, in the construction of infrastructure projects in the country.

Zubiri cited a Supreme Court decision that ruled in favor of allowing foreign contractors to obtain licenses and participate in government or private projects in the country.

The High Tribunal decision upheld the resolution of a lower court that declared the provision of Republic Act 4566 or the Contractors Licensing Law’s Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) void.

Section 3.1 of the IRR states that companies with at least 60 percent Filipino equity participation can be granted a regular license, which gives them continuing authority to engage in many contracting activities throughout a one-year period.

Foreign firms can only be granted a special license, and they need to have a separate license for each contracting activity.

The lawmaker said the SC ruling will not allow different companies from other countries to participate even in small projects.

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