Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has sought for a Senate inquiry into the influx of Chinese nationals employed and residing in the Philippines which not only steals jobs away from ordinary Filipinos but also triggers property surge on many developed areas.
De Lima filed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 751 urging the appropriate Senate committee to assess the effective implementation of existing immigration and labor laws to ensure that Filipinos are protected against adverse effect caused by immigration surge.
“The increasingly laxed control mechanisms over the influx of Chinese nationals in the Philippines have led to concerns on whether we have enough capability to properly enforce our immigration and labor laws to the detriment of our national interest,” she said.
In the Department of Tourism’s Annual Visitor Sample Survey of 2017, the number of Chinese travelers to the Philippines grew by 54.43 percent last year, resulting to 371,429 visitors in the first quarter of 2018 alone.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) also noted an increase of 33.4 percent in the Alien Employment Permit (AEP) granted to foreign nationals intending to engage in employment in the Philippines, rising from 28,371 in 2015 to 41,993 in 2016.
Chinese nationals consistently comprised most of the AEP holders from 2013 to 2016 – growing to 45 percent (18,920) in 2016 from 23.7 percent in 2013, she noted.
According to De Lima, in the past 19 months since the Duterte administration has awarded licenses, more than 50 offshore gambling companies catering to overseas Chinese punters have received permits to operate in Manila, employing about 200,000 predominantly Chinese workers who have been arriving since late 2016.
“The surge of AEP issuance means there is a number of available jobs in the Philippines, even while Filipinos continue to seek opportunities abroad and unemployment remains a concern,” she said.
De Lima also took note of reports that of the 1,508 foreigners deported by immigration authorities in 2017, 1,248 were Chinese nationals, most of whom were arrested at the Fontana Hotel in Clark, Pampanga for purportedly engaging in illegal online gaming operations.
She also noted the arrest of 10 foreigners, mostly Chinese, who were caught in the act of operating a dredging vessel that was drawing lahar and black sand from Macolcol River in San Felipe, Zambales without permits from concerned government agencies.
The former justice secretary said it is important to review the government’s capability to enforce immigration and labor policies to promote mechanisms that will address labor constraints by improving Filipino competency and discontinuing those that are not good to national interest.
“With the influx of Chinese nationals employed and residing in the Philippines, there is a dangerous possibility of the real estate market pricing out Filipinos out of their homes, especially in areas near businesses that heavily employs Chinese nationals, like casinos and resorts,” she said.
“There is also the danger of our economy being too dependent on Chinese tourists and clients where any change in policies by the China government could effectively stall, if not cripple, our local economy,” she added.