The Kilos Pinoy Para sa Pagbabago (KPPP) group has asked the Chinese embassy to look into the report that their country has sent Chinese prisoners to undergo forced labor on projects occupied by their contractors in the Philippines.
In his letter to Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian dated October 20, William Espinosa, group convenor, asked to clarify the serious issue and be fair in dealing with Filipino workers.
The issue was raised in the Senate hearing regarding the discovery that 45 percent of the workers in the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) project in the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge project are Chinese while 31 percent work in the Estrella Pantaleon project.
The KPPP letter further stated that although it is one of the government’s goals in President Rodrigo Duterte’s Build, Build, Build a program to provide employment to Filipino workers and boost the country’s economy, what happening is seemed the opposite.
What is even more disturbing is the report that Chinese prisoners are being sent by companies to work in the Philippines, which clearly violates human rights under the International Labor Organization.
Group says Chinese prisoners sent to PH for forced labor
Meanwhile, Malacañang appealed Wednesday for “leeway” in hiring Chinese workers employed in the DPWH’s infrastructure projects.
These bridges are “100-percent donations from the Chinese government,” according to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
“We don’t pay back anything for the building of these bridges. That’s why we need to give them some flexibility in the personnel that they hire,” he told CNN, Philippines.
“Had this been a project that we will pay for using taxpayers’ money, of course, we would insist that aside from highly technical positions, Philippine laborers should be employed. I just appeal that we should give them some leeway although we would appreciate it, of course, if the Chinese government should employ more Filipinos,” he added.
Roque said that as a general rule, foreign nationals should be hired “only when there’s not enough Filipinos able and have the capacity to perform the work.”
The Palace official said he would discuss the issue with the DPWH and DOLE “to see if we can insist that more Filipinos should be hired.”