By Mario Casayuran
Foreign bidders and contract awardees of Philippine infrastructure projects must hire local workers for manual and non-technical jobs to protection and promote the interests of the ordinary Filipino worker, Sen. Sherwin T. Gatchalian said Monday.
Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate economic affairs committee, filed Senate Bill (SB) 2223 seeking to amend Republic Act No. 8182, or the Official Development Assistance (ODA) law.
Without this piece of legislation, Gatchalian said ordinary Filipino workers are deprived of the opportunity to work and partake in the benefits of the loans that Filipino taxpayers would be paying for under the existing ODA law.
“Senate Bill No. 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,” he explained.
Gatchalian said SB 2223 in fact embeds in the ODA law the Bureau of Immigration’s (BI) supplemental guidelines for special and provisional work permits for foreign nationals, as enumerated in BI’s Operations Order No. JHM-2019-002 issued on January 30, 2019.
The BI guidelines state that 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).
The Gatchalian bill 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 shall 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.