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Gatchalian wants Filipino workers prioritized in foreign-funded projects

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Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has sought to a bill amending the Official Development Assistance (ODA) law require foreign bidders and contract awardees to hire local workers for manual and non-technical jobs.

Gatchalian, chair of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs, recently filed Senate Bill No. 2223 to ensure the “primordial protection and promotion of interests of the ordinary Filipino worker.”

“Ordinary Filipino workers are deprived of the opportunity to work and partake in the benefits of the loans that Filipino taxpayers will be paying for” under the existing ODA law,” he said.

SBN 2223 seeks to remedy this by requiring foreign bidders or contract awardees coming from ODA donor countries to employ or hire Filipino workers to perform manual, non-technical, or other analogous labor in carrying out these development projects.

Gatchalian noted that under the Bureau of Immigration’s guidelines “no application for special work permit (SWP) or provisional work permit (PWP) shall be given for manual or non-technical labor, including, but not limited to, the following: construction workers, cashiers, waiters, janitors, household help, carpenters, garbage collectors, security guards, and warehouse caretakers.”

The same guidelines also prohibit the issuance of SWPs or PWPs for positions or professions regulated by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC).

SBN 2223 also mandates the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Justice (DoJ), and Department of Finance (DoF) to take primary responsibility in monitoring compliance by foreign bidders or contract awardees with Philippine laws, rules and regulations, especially those in the interest and for the protection of Filipino workers.

Under the proposed amendment, the DoLE must submit to the Congressional Oversight Committee on the ODA Law an annual report detailing whether the winning bidders or awardees of approved development projects funded by ODA loans comply with the guidelines.

The bill also requires the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to publish its findings on the social, environmental, and economic impact of ODA-funded development projects on its website, to promote transparency and ensure accountability among approving authorities and officials.

NEDA is also required to annually publish and update the list of approved development projects funded by ODA loans.

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