China’s satrap is illegal workers’ best friend

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IN A PDP-Laban rally last February, President Rodrigo Duterte said Chinese nationals should be allowed to work in the country following the influx of illegal workers from China.

He explained he feared that Beijing might retaliate against Filipino workers if the undocumented Chinese were deported.

This is a clear display of Duterte’s cowardice. A chief executive is supposed to uphold the laws of the country, but Duterte’s hesitation in enforcing laws shows how he’s violating his oath of office. For someone who constantly flaunts his machismo, his decisions and statements reek of cowardice.

Filipino seeking employment abroad have to follow legal procedures of both the Philippines and the host country. Filipinos illegally working abroad have to face the consequences of their action.

While Filipinos here cannot find jobs or suffer the consequences of a contractual system that even the supposedly strong-willed president could not abolish, the Chinese have been allowed by the same president the free rein to work as undocumented aliens.

Duterte expressed fears that Beijing would retaliate by kicking out undocumented Filipinos. This is the first time for Filipinos to learn this; to be sure, this smacks of Duterte’s penchant for fake news.

This should be as simple as upholding the rule of law. What are the laws for if the very person who swore to protect and enforce them talks carelessly about skirting these rules instead of addressing the real issues?

The Senate Committee on Labor continued last February the probe on the influx of Chinese illegal workers in the country, with the senators lamenting how the foreigners are taking away jobs from Filipinos.

Meanwhile, in an effort to justify the influx, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello said the jobs that go to Chinese workers are only those that Filipinos cannot perform.

But the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) cannot even keep track of all these workers, with the labor secretary himself not sure how much foreign employees are in the country.

In a budget hearing September last year, Drilon questioned DOLE’s count of 40,000 foreign workers, claiming instead that according to industry people, there are 400,000 foreign workers in Metro Manila alone. Bello maintained that there are only 40,000 workers with alien permits, saying the rest of Drilon’s claims must be illegal workers.

The DOLE requires foreign nationals to apply for a Special Work Permit if they will engage in “gainful employment” for three to six months.

But if the employment is for more than six months, they need to apply for Alien Employment Permits, which will only be issued to foreign nationals if Filipinos cannot perform the job.

The President himself is unsure of the number of Filipinos working in China, but this did not stop him from announcing the huge number of overseas Filipino workers to justify his cowardly stance.

The population data range from 300,000 to 400,000, depending on the day and probably the President’s mood.

But what is even more disturbing is the way the figures he announces increase on a daily basis. It shows that Duterte is willing to spout whatever misinformation just to prove a point to his guileless followers who are always willing to nod at anything he says.

The statistical confusion of both the President and the labor department shows an administration tweaking facts to suit its fancy. It shows a delusional administration. This is the better possible explanation to Duterte’s sissy spinelessness toward Chinese illegal workers.

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