Compliance with the law
For a nation with a tenth of its population working overseas, the Philippines surely understands the plight of foreign workers. The country also takes pride in its hospitality.
So any concern that is being generated by a reported influx of Chinese workers should have its roots not in xenophobia or other forms of discrimination, but in the need to ensure that foreigners are complying with Philippine laws. There are constitutional provisions on the employment of Filipinos and foreigners, and immigration laws must be applied properly.
The Chinese embassy has given assurance that its citizens respect Philippine laws. The embassy also denied a story from Malacañang that Beijing has warned of a tit-for-tat in case Manila starts the mass deportation of Chinese illegals. President Duterte had initially warned of such a possibility, saying that there are hundreds of thousands of Filipinos in China. Malacañang later clarified that the government would continue enforcing labor and immigration laws in dealing with Chinese workers.
At the forefront of this task is the Bureau of Immigration, but a Senate probe has raised concern on whether the BI is up to the job. Sen. Joel Villanueva, who chairs the chamber’s committee on labor, employment and human resources development, reported unearthing a possible scam in the BI involving Chinese illegals.
For a fee of P6,000, a Chinese arriving on a tourist visa can secure a working visa within a few days. For an additional P5,000 without a receipt, however, Villanueva said this process could be fast-tracked within just a day. The BI has been rocked by other corruption scandals in the past, so Villanueva’s story is not entirely surprising.
Foreign governments understand the need for aliens, whether tourists or workers, to respect the laws of a host country. China has tough laws and does not hesitate to carry out capital punishment on both its citizens and foreigners alike. Filipinos are on death row in China for drug trafficking.
It is up to the host country to ensure that everyone, regardless of nationality, complies with its laws. This cannot be possible if agencies tasked to enforce compliance are tainted by corruption.