By Mario Casayuran
The interest of unemployed Filipino workers should be protected by providing them stable jobs before opening the job market to foreigners, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, vice chairman of the Senate economic affairs committee, implored government today, June 27.
Gatchalian said the government should carefully consider hiring unemployed Filipinos, who were mostly displaced by the economic impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, before giving any preferential treatment to foreign workers in the government’s flagship projects.
He made the call amid plans of the national government to allow the entry of more foreign workers particularly those employed in the its flagship projects.
Malacañang had said in earlier reports that foreign embassies have made requests to ease the country’s travel restrictions for foreign workers.
Citing the April 2020 Labor Force Survey by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Gatchalian pointed out that there are 7.3 million Filipinos who are now unemployed and hoping to find jobs.
The PSA report also shows that the underemployment rate, which measures the number of workers with irregular jobs, also increased by 18.9 percent to 6.4 million in April 2020, from 5.6 million in April 2019.
According to Gatchalian, the government needs to prioritize bringing unemployed Filipinos back to the labor market in order to help rejuvenate the country’s public consumption, which can lead to higher growth rate.
Gatchalian also urged the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Department of Finance (DOF) to take primary responsibility in monitoring compliance by foreign bidders or contract awardees with Philippine laws, rules and regulations, especially those related to the protection of Filipino workers.
This is to ensure that foreign bidders and contract awardees of Philippine infrastructure projects must hire local workers for manual and non-technical jobs, he said.