Palace spokesperson disagrees with Tulfo’s scathing assessment of Filipino workers

Published March 11, 2019, 4:36 PM

by AJ Siytangco

By Genalyn Kabiling 

Filipino workers, in general, are industrious and honest, and are the preferred laborers in other countries, Malacañang said Monday even after the government’s special envoy to China Ramon Tulfo claimed Filipinos have poor work ethics.

The country’s hardworking construction workers even deserved a salary increase from their employers to help improve their plight, according to Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo

“Definitely, ang tingin natin siyempre ang mga Pilipino talagang masisipag. In fact ang impression sa abroad ay masisipag talaga [Definitely, we consider Filipinos really hardworking. In fact, the impression abroad is they are really hardworking],” Panelo said during a Palace press briefing.

“The general impression, reputation of Filipino workers abroad are very good. We are industrious, we are honest,” he added.

But while most Filipinos are diligent at work, Panelo acknowledged that some workers are also lazy.

“On a personal level, like for me for instance. Ako may masipag na worker, may tamad na worker… Pero ang general impression talaga masisipag tayo [I have hardworking workers, I also have lazy workers but the general impression is we are really industrious].  We are preferred in other countries,” he added.

Tulfo recently defended the influx of Chinese workers in the country, saying they get the job done faster than Filipino laborers. He reported that some contractors have complained that Filipino workers were supposedly slow and noisy at work.

The President’s special envoy has rejected calls to apologize for his comment amid outrage from some labor groups, saying he only “telling the truth” that Filipino construction workers were “lazy and a slowpoke.”

Panelo, however, disagreed with the observation that Filipino workers were inferior compared to their Chinese counterparts. “If we put our hearts into it, magagaling talaga ang Pilipino [No. Filipinos are really good workers. If we put our hearts into it, Filipinos are really good],” he insisted.

Asked if the government was amenable to a salary increase for construction workers to improve productivity and prevent brain drain, Panelo said:  “Siyempre dapat palaging okay tayo basta ikabubuti ng manggagawa [Of course, we are okay with anything that will benefit our workers].”

Panelo has described Tulfo’s comment about Filipino workers as mere part of “freedom of expression.” He noted that Tulfo was only relaying the sentiment of developers about the work ethic of Filipino workers.

“Well, that’s freedom of expression. Everyone is entitled to make his opinion on any matter concerning the country or the people,” he said.

Asked if the Palace would ask the President’s special envoy to China to refrain from discrediting Filipino workers, Panelo said Tulfo was a “responsible man” and “does not need to be advised.”

He said some companies were probably “lax” towards workers resulting to poor production. “Kasi kung istrikto ka, lahat ng empleyado will work [Because if you’re strict, all employees work],” he said.

Read more: Special Envoy Tulfo will not retract statement