Villanueva urges gov’t to assure safety of Filipino workers in China
MANILA, Philippines — Government agencies must boost efforts to ensure the safety of Filipino workers in China, Senator Joel Villanueva said on Tuesday.
“In light of Malacañang’s clarification that there is an alarming number of Filipinos working illegally in China, we ask the Department of Foreign Affairs and other concerned agencies to further intensify their efforts to protect the welfare of our citizens working there and in other locations around the world,” Villanueva, chairman of the Senate committee on labor and employment, said in a statement on Tuesday.
Villanueva issued the statement after Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said China had cautioned the Philippines on reckless deportation of Chinese workers as it might affect the status of Filipino workers in China.
President Rodrigo Duterte also confirmed in his speech on Sunday that he cannot order the deportation of Chinese workers in the country.
“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?” the President said.
Villanueva said the DFA must extend consular assistance and maintain communication with citizens abroad.
“While fulfilling their obligation to extend consular assistance, our foreign posts should also keep a proper accounting of Filipinos within the territories they serve and maintain an open line of communication with our citizens there,” the senator said.
He also urged the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POEA) to continue assisting illegal Filipino workers overseas to legalize their employment status.
“We encourage our Philippine Overseas Labor Office and our foreign posts to continue helping Filipinos working illegally overseas to legalize their employment there. Legal employment means that an individual is afforded protection by a country’s labor laws and prevailing regulation,” Villanueva said.
Villanueva also asked Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to “strengthen the enforcement of laws on immigration and employment of foreign workers in the country.”
BI has called for a head count of all foreigners working in the Philippines after finding out that thousands of Chinese are entering the country as tourists but are absorbed by Chinese-controlled industries as illegal workers. /ee
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