China threatens Manila with mass deportation of Filipino workers over foreign labor issue

Concern is growing in the Philippines over rapid influx of Chinese workers, with many violating labor laws

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Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua and PHI President Duterte (PNA file photo)

Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua and PHI President Duterte (PNA file photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – China has threatened the Philippines government with possible deportation of Filipino workers, following widespread concern and a legislative inquiry into a massive influx of Chinese workers, with many thought to be violating the country’s labor and immigration laws.

In a statement made Tuesday, Feb. 26, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo revealed that the Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua threatened something akin to the mass deportation of Filipino workers if Manila were to suddenly crack down on the influx of Chinese laborers.

Ambassador Zhao suggested there would be retaliatory measures if Manila acted "recklessly”on the issue, according to Panelo. The Chinese Ambassador remarks, made at a recent state dinner, underscored a statement from President Rodrigo Duterte, made Sunday, Feb. 24.

In a speech, as reported by the Inquirer, Duterte demurred over concerns about the massive influx of Chinese workers into the Philippines.

“The Chinese here, just let them work here. Just let them. Why? We have 300,000 Filipinos in China. That’s why I cannot just say, leave. I will deport you. What if the 300,000 (Filipinos in China) are suddenly kicked out?”

Public concern over the problem of illegal Chinese workers spiked last week when 200 foreign nationals, mostly Chinese, were arrested in Makati City working for an internet based business, reports ABS-CBN.

Lawmakers in the Philippines are urging the Duterte administration to approach the rapid influx of Chinese workers with “caution,” even launching an official legislative inquiry into the issue.

One Senator has reported that over 185,000 special work permits have been issued for Chinese laborers over the past 11 months by the Department of Immigration, reports ABS-CBN.

That is in addition to roughly 85,000 Alien Employment Permits issued by the Department of Labor to Chinese nationals over the past three years, which accounts for 50 percent of the country’s Alien Employment Permits.

Since many of the Chinese workers are employed by Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators, or cloistered in Chinese immigrant communities, away from government oversight, there is a high potential for fraud, according to many sources.

Now there are calls among Filipino lawmakers to curtail the issuing of the special employment permits by the Department of Immigration.

With Duterte’s recent comments indicating he will look the other way when threatened by Beijing, lawmakers and officials with the Department of Labor and Employment have expressed anger at the president’s unwillingness to address the ongoing problem.

In his statement, Presidential Spokesperson Panelo attempted to clarify the Duterte's remarks, by claiming that the administration would enforce all labor and immigration laws equally without regard to nationality, reports the Inquirer.