Photo from PNA
More than 1,000 illegal Filipinos in China deported last year, says PHL envoy
Chinese authorities have deported illegal Filipino workers last year, Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta. Romana said on Wednesday.
"Last year, I think our figure is about more than a thousand were deported by the Chinese," he added.
Sta. Romana was unable to provide the exact number of illegal Filipinos living in China.
"They’re not registered and because we only know when they surrender or they’re caught by the authorities," he said.
"Usually, they come here to work, to seek work, as domestic workers. They come in as tourists and they seek employment," he added.
The subject of the status of illegal Chinese workers in the Philippines, Sta. Romana said, was not part of discussions with Chinese officials.
"It’s been a discussion in Manila within the government," he said.
He admitted though that Filipinos who are illegally staying in China is a cause of concern.
"But we have our own problem here of Filipinos who were --- they’re not in proper legal status," he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte said earlier in the year that he would rather be "careful" in handling the issue of deporting illegal Chinese workers in the country out of concern for the Filipinos who are working in China.
The Chinese embassy, for its part, issued a statement saying China respects the laws and regulations of the Philippines regarding employment of foreign nationals and acknowledged that Chinese nationals "should not stay or work illegally in foreign countries including the Philippines."
Duterte: Allow illegal Chinese to work here
President Rodrigo Duterte would rather allow illegal Chinese workers here to stay, as deporting them might trigger tit for tat that could affect 300,000 Filipinos in China.
“The Chinese here, just let them work here. Just let them. Why? We have 300,000 Filipinos in China,” the President said during a campaign rally of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) in Biñan City, Laguna province, on Sunday.
“That’s why I cannot just say, ‘Leave. I will deport you.’ What if the 300,000 are suddenly kicked out?” he said.
The President’s remarks came after the Bureau of Immigration called in all foreigners working in the Philippines for a head count following reports that thousands of Chinese are entering the country as tourists but are disappearing in Chinese-controlled industries as illegal workers.
Duterte does not favor deporting illegal Chinese workers
President Rodrigo Duterte took a tolerant stance on the influx of Chinese workers in the Philippines.
In his speech at the PDP-Laban event in Laguna, the President said that the number of illegal Chinese workers in the country "equals" the number of undocumented Filipino workers in China.
"'Yung mga Chinese dito, hayaan mo 'yan na dito magtrabaho. Hayaan mo. Bakit? We have 300,000 Filipinos in China kaya hindi ako makasabi, 'Oh, umalis kayo dito. Deport ka doon,'" Duterte said.
(Allow the Chinese work here. Let them be. Why? We have 300,000 Filipinos in China that's why I can't say, "Oh, leave this country. We'll have you deported.")
Duterte then posed the question: "Eh kung umalis 'yung [300,000] of them?" (What if the 300,000 of them were asked to leave?)
The Philippine consulate-general in Hong Kong earlier estimated that 200,000 OFWs are working as maids in mainland China, with most of the workers recruited from Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, industry insiders estimated that there are some 100,000 to 250,000 Chinese nationals employed illegally in the country.
In his recent opinion piece on Manila Times, Special Envoy to China Ramon Tulfo described Duterte's stance on illegal Chinese workers as "tolerant." Tulfo wrote the piece after he met with the President, who visited Hong Kong for a "family trip" mid-February.
"The President said there were many Filipino workers who are illegally employed in China, but the Chinese government tolerates their stay as long as they're not committing any crime," Tulfo said.
Rise of Chinese nationals in the Philippines
In November 2018, ABS-CBN reported that the President approved of the deportation of illegal Chinese workers, but should be done "carefully."
Duterte said then that China "has not deported" any illegal Filipino workers yet, citing possible backlash if there would be a government crackdown on undocumented Chinese workers in the Philippines.
But lawmakers and various groups raised alarm over the influx of Chinese workers in the country who "take away" the jobs meant for Filipinos. (READ: Gov’t income and jobs for Filipinos ‘lost’ to Chinese workers – Villanueva)
From 2015 to 2018, Department of Labor and Employment had issued 169,893 alien working permits (AEP), 85,496 of which went to Chinese workers. (READ: How China’s online gambling addiction is reshaping Manila)
AEPs, valid up to 3 years, are required to get a working visa in the country.
Meanwhile, the Bureau of Immigration said it issued 185,000 special work permits from January to November 2018. Of the current valid SWPs, 64,087 of the total 72,010 were given to Chinese nationals.
Arrested Chinese workers should be allowed to submit requirements to avoid deportation – ‘Bato’
Former Philippine National Police chief and senatorial candidate Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa said arrested illegal Chinese workers in the country should be given a chance to submit all needed requirements before they are deported.
Dela Rosa issued this proposal in a Hugpong ng Pagbabago campaign sortie in Navotas City on Tuesday.
“Illegal is illegal. Kung illegal, eh di dapat gawing legal. (If they are illegal, they should be made legal),” he said. “Dapat kunin lahat ng requirements na kailangan nila gawin para maging legal sila (They should submit all requirements needed for them to become legal).”
The former top cop explained that if these workers fail to comply with the requirements needed to become legal, then they can be deported, but he will leave the final decision to the Bureau of Immigration (BI).
“Madali lang naman ‘yan, eh. Ilegal sila, eh di they have to be deported. Kung illegal, ah (That’s easy. They are illegal, so they should be deported. If only they are illegal),” he said.
“Pero kung may paraan na maging legal, na-comply nila ang requirements, so depende na sa Bureau of Immigration ‘yon. Depende sakanila, sila nagi-implement ng batas na ‘yon, eh (But if there is a way to become legal, if they comply with all the requirements, so that depends with the Bureau of Immigration. It depends with them, they are the ones who implement that law).”
Meanwhile, reelectionist Senator JV Ejercito said priority in local employment should be given to Filipino workers.
“We have to protect our Filipino workers. We have to give them priority at any given time,” he said.
Sen. Sonny Angara echoed this statement, saying that the government should implement provisions in the labor code which emphasize that Filipino workers should be prioritized when it comes to filling job vacancies in the country.
“Meron tayong provision sa batas, ‘yung labor code, na kapag may kwalipikadong Pilipino, hindi dapat mag-hire ng foreigners, so siguro implement nalang ‘yung nasa batas (We have provisions in our labor code that says if there are qualified Filipinos, foreigners should not be hired, so we should just implement the law),” he said.
President Duterte said illegal Chinese workers should be left to work here since having them deported may result to the deportation of about 300,000 Filipinos working overseas.
“Yung mga Chinese dito, hayaan mo ‘yan, nandito [para] mag-trabaho, hayaan mo. Bakit? (The Chinese here, leave them be, they are here to work, leave them be. Why?) We have 300,000 Filipinos in China. Kaya hindi ako makasabi, umalis kayo dito deport ka doon. Eh kung bigla paalisin don [300,000] of them? (That’s why I cannot say ‘Go away from here, we will deport you.’ What if 300,000 Filipinos are asked to leave their work abroad because of that?