Pangilinan urges hiring of Filipino construction workers in foreign-assisted projects

Published October 18, 2020, 6:24 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senator Francis Pangilinan on Sunday suggested the renegotiation of the government’s infrastructure deals with other countries to prioritize the hiring of Filipinos as part of the efforts to restart the economy.

Senator Francis Pangilinan (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

In an interview over radio DZBB, Pangilinan reiterated the need to give preference to local skilled workers and professionals in the projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) as millions of Filipinos were left jobless by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a proposal — kailangan busisiin pa nang husto ito (and this should be reviewed thoroughly) — pwede i-renegotiate natin diyan (we can renegotiate), given that we entered into those contracts prior to COVID. We should be able to raise this as an issue now that we have 23 million Filipinos jobless,” he said. 

“Sasabihin natin (We can tell them that) we will re-train our Filipino workers on technical aspects, baka kaya nating saluhin na at ibigay na sa ating mga kababayan itong trabahong ito (maybe we can ask them to just give these jobs to our countrymen). Reduce maybe from 45 percent to maybe 20 percent. Can we bring it down and give some of these [jobs] to our workers who are now jobless?” he raised

During the Senate finance committee’s hearing on the DPWH budget last October 14, senators inquired about the influx of Chinese construction workers in key infrastructure projects of the administration.

An official said that Chinese workers accounted for 30 to 45 percent of their workforce for at least two China-funded bridge construction projects, although DPWH Secretary Mark Villar pointed out that this was not the case for all foreign-assisted projects.

Villar had explained that foreigners were only needed for “special” technologies and expertise, which Pangilinan said could be addressed by training Filipinos.

He added that repatriate overseas Filipino workers whose construction skills were preferred abroad could be prioritized for employment in these government projects.

A Social Weather Stations survey last month showed that adult unemployment rate in September was 39.5 percent which equates to 23.7 million Filipinos.