Many Filipino groups and individuals criticized President Duterte for favoring China on some policies especially relating to the South China Sea. Some critics say he is doing this, including pivoting to China for loans and grants, just to finance his ambitious infrastructure programs.
Yesterday, February 24, 2019, during a campaign rally of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) in Biñan City, President Duterte again, for the second time, said, “The Chinese here, just let them work here. Just let them. Why? We have 300,000 Filipinos in China”.
The statement by President Duterte was related to the concerns raised over by labor groups on the increasing Chinese workers, many are “illegals”, in the Philippines. This has been revealed to the public during a Senate inquiry last year (September 2018) on the influx of foreign workers in the country. On that inquiry, it was disclosed to the public that the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has issued almost 52,000 alien employment permits for Chinese workers.
Some labor officials claimed that these Chinese use tourist visas to come to the country and later also applied to get temporary permits to work for online gaming companies. According also to the Senate labor committee, there was more than 119,000 “tourists”, mostly Chinese citizens, who were able to skirt the labor regulations of the country and get working permits.
Furthermore, according to Undersecretary Ciriaco Lagunzad III, many of these Chinese workers got jobs without alien employment permits. Instead, they get approval to work in the country by securing “special” work permits from the Bureau of immigration (BI). Lagunzad also said that there could be higher numbers of special working permits given since in 2018 alone, there were 1.6 million tourist visas issued by the Department of Foreign to Chinese citizens.
In his statement last year, in November 2018, Duterte said regarding this issue, “It is not okay but there has to be an arrangement there. So if you think that you are at a loss, at a disadvantage because there are so many Chinese nationals working here, remember that we have the same equal amount of people – Filipinos who are there working in China. But they are not departing anyone. So maybe you can just tell them to go home”.
On that same statement, the President also continued, “Yes, they should be deported. But in the same manner, you should be careful because when you point to the Chinese you also point yourself at us. There are so many thousands of Filipinos working there or went inside China as tourists and working there”.