By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
The General Alliance of Workers Association (GAWA), a local labor rights group, is calling on the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to investigate a recent report of Chinese forced laborers being sent into the Philippines.
GAWA Secretary-general Wennie Sancho said the allegations must be seriously probed by the Bureau of Immigration and DOLE, pointing out the importation of Chinese workers in the country cannot be denied especially in the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) industry.
“They are coming in as tourists, and are hired as workers,” Sancho said.
Sancho further expressed alarm on the alleged use of forced laborers, commenting that if it is true some companies may be hiring criminals, and at the same time forced labor is also a form of exploitation.
“DOLE should look into this violation of human rights,” Sancho pointed out.
He also stated the government is not strictly enforcing the law on Chinese workers, adding they are depriving the Filipino people of job opportunities amid the pandemic.
“We should stop hiring Chinese workers and implement a Filipino first policy,” he added.
The Pinoy Aksyon for Governance and the Environment (Pinoy Aksyon) has sounded alarm bells over reports of “illegal and forced” Chinese labor in the country, especially in construction projects.
The group wrote to senators Juan Miguel Zubiri and Francis Pangilinan that “incessant, unabated and illegal influx of Chinese laborers here in the country is depriving Filipino workers of livelihood.”
Pinoy Aksyon said, “Reports reaching us that ‘forced labor’ is being employed by Chinese companies with projects here in the Philippines. Allegedly, prisoners are sent here for involuntary labor. If true and left unchecked this could make the country complicit in this blatant violation of human rights laws and International Labor Organization conventions.”
These workers do menial jobs in construction, not specialized technical work, clearly violation of PH laws.
Recent data reveal that unemployment rose over 10 percent in July this year compared to July 2019, from 5.4% to 17.7%. Latest survey by the Social Weather Station has also revealed record high numbers of Filipino families experiencing hunger at over 7 million.
Even with optimistic projections of unemployment tapering to around 8% at the close of the year due to easing quarantine restrictions and onset of the Christmas season, that figure is still high compared to normal times.
This makes it imperative every move to pump prime the economy to create jobs and generally to spur economic activities in the grassroots. The Build Build Build program of the Duterte administration is one of the major job generators. There is however a sore finger in terms of employment generated by the program.
On the other hand, there is also persistent chatter that some Chinese Army enlisted personnel and convicted criminals are embedded in the gang of Chinese workers in construction projects.
Pinoy Aksyon requested Zubiri and Pangilinan for a Senate Resolution asking for a Senate investigation on this grossly unfair, illegal and unjust practice./DGB, WDJ