Duterte’s team: China can’t hire its nationals for projects in Philippines

MANILA: Even if China grants the Philippines enormous loans to ramp up infrastructure development, the law still prohibits the hiring of foreign construction workers, according to the head of President Rodrigo Duterte’s economic team.

That is not the government’s policy to import labour, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III told reporters recently.

“But if you need special skills and they are not available in the country, then you bring them in, which we already do. There is a law that allows foreign workers to work in this country for highly technical work,” he said.

Dominguez was reacting to reports alleging that the government may have to hire Chinese construction workers for infrastructure projects that will be funded by China, especially if stipulated by the contracts for official development assistance (ODA) from Beijing.

“As such, we will follow the law,” Dominguez stressed.

For their part, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said that they are certainly going to be very careful in their dealings in terms of project financing from the Chinese government so that they would not allow the entry of Chinese firms with questionable records.

Pernia, who heads the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), said concerns over questionable sources of funds from China could be premature since they have yet to sign any loan agreement with China except oral commitments or some written memoranda of understanding.

Dominguez said that during the first six months of the Duterte administration, it had already secured about PHP1tril (RM85.6bil) in ODA from China and Japan.

Both economic giants were aggressively seeking infrastructure investments in the Philippines in light of the ‘Dutertenomics thrust of Build, Build, Build’ aimed at ushering in a golden age of infrastructure. — Philippine Daily Inquirer /Asia News Network

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