By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Amid the surge of alien workers in the country, Senator Joel Villanueva on Friday called anew on employers to prioritize Filipinos over foreign nationals.
Villanueva, chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development, reiterated his call for the amendment of the Presidential Decree No. 442, or the Labor Code of the Philippines, to ensure that majority of the employers’ collective workforce are Filipinos.
The senator in 2017 filed Senate Bill 1508, or the proposed “Act Mandating the Requisite Proportion of Filipino Laborers to Foreign Workers” which seeks a mandatory proportion of Filipino employees in all companies of not less than 80 percent of their total rank-and-file workers.
“This mandatory protection will guarantee that Filipinos will always have a fighting chance despite the rapidly shrinking global economy. The State must always uphold and uplift the rights of the Filipino laborer,” Villanueva said in a statement.
He lamented that since 2016, incidents of illegal foreign workers coming into the country’s special economic zones have been causing an uproar due to the disproportion of foreign workers to Filipino workers.
While the Philippines, as a member-country of the International Labor Organization, is mandated to maintain open borders in allowing foreign workers to partake in the country’s labor force, “the need for substantive protection for Filipino citizens to meaningful opportunities remains,” Villanueva said.
The Philippine Statistics Authority recently reported that unemployment rate in the Philippines stands at 5.2 percent, as of January 2019.
The Senate labor committee has been conducting an inquiry on the influx of illegal foreign workers in the country.
During the hearing, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) reported that it arrested or charged in 2018 167 foreign nationals employed locally without working permits, of which 95 percent, or 159, are Chinese nationals engaged in illegal online gambling.
“The information we received from the NBI offers another perspective that we need to consider in this pressing problem of illegal foreign workers using loopholes in our system to take away jobs that Filipinos can do,” Villanueva said.
SB 1508 has been pending in the labor committee. Under the bill, employers shall be required to submit annually a sworn statement detailing the proportion of Filipino workers in their operations. Failing to do so will be meted with penalties according to the Labor Code.