By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN
MANILA – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has called on the government to protect and promote the interest of unemployed Filipino workers by providing them with new stable jobs before it considers opening the job market to foreigners.
Gatchalian said the government said the government should prioritize providing jobs to Filipinos before opening the market to foreigners.
Gatchalian, vice chair of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs made the remarks amid plans of the national government to allow the entry of more foreign workers particularly those employed in the flagship projects in the country.
There were pronouncements from Malacañang that foreign embassies made the request on easing the country’s travel restrictions for foreign workers.
“Ang panawagan ko sa gobyerno, sana bigyan ng prayoridad ang ating mga kababayan pagdating sa oportunidad ng trabaho kaysa ibigay pa ang pagkakataon sa mga dayuhan,” said Gatchalian.
Gathchalian stressed that before giving any preferential treatment to foreign workers in the government’s flagship projects, he calls on the government to carefully consider hiring unemployed Filipinos, who were mostly displaced by the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
He noted that there are 7.3 million talented and hardworking Filipinos who are now unemployed and hoping to find jobs, citing the April 2020 Labor Force Survey by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
The PSA report also shows that the underemployment rate, which measures the number of workers with irregular jobs, also increased by 18.9 percentto 6.4 million in April 2020 from 5.6 million in April 2019.
According to Gatchalian, the government needs to prioritize bringing unemployed Filipinos back to the labor market in order to help support and rejuvenate the country’s public consumption, which can lead to higher growth rate.
“Mahalaga na mabigyan kaagad ng trabaho ang ating mga kababayang nawalan ng hanapbuhay kung gusto nating makaahon sa kahirapan dulot ng pandemiya,” Gatchalian stressed.
Meanwhile, Gatchalian also urges the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Justice (DOJ), and the 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.
“This is to ensure that foreign bidders and contract awardees of Philippine infrastructure projects must hire local workers for manual and non-technical jobs,” he said.