MANILA -- The Philippines should stop issuing "automatic" visas to Chinese nationals to protect the welfare of Filipino workers, opposition senatorial candidate Mar Roxas said Monday.
Roxas, in a chance interview, cited reports of some Chinese nationals working at a local construction site.
"Ano ang special na kakayahan ng Chinese na hindi kaya ng Pilipino pagdating sa construction, sa pagiging karpentero, pagiging mason?
(What is the special skill of the Chinese that Filipinos cannot do when it comes to construction, carpentry, masonry?)
"Eh para sa akin itigil na yan automatic visa granting, itigil yan at bilangin natin, ilan na ba silang nakapasok dito, saan sila nagtatrabaho, at nagbabayad ba sila ng tamang buwis tulad ng mga Pilipino, dapat monitored," he added.
(For me, the automatic visa granting should be stopped and we should tally how many Chinese nationals have entered the country, where they work, and if they pay the right taxes like Filipinos.)
Visas-upon-arrival are granted to foreign businessmen endorsed by local or international commerce chambers; athletes; participants in international conferences; and investors involved in bilateral agreements, according to the Bureau of Immigration website.
Meanwhile, roughly half of the 169,000 Alien Employment Permits issued by the Department of Labor and Employment in the last 3 years went to Chinese nationals and a third of which are in support services, including offshore gaming, Labor Sec Silvestre Bello III told a Senate hearing on Feb. 21.
Thousands of Filipinos could be kicked out of China if the Philippines is not careful in handling the influx of Chinese workers, said President Rodrigo Duterte, who rebuilt economic and diplomatic ties with Beijing.
The finance department, however, warned the Philippines could be losing billions from uncollected income taxes of foreign workers in this industry.