Jobless

Cagayan folk lose ecozone jobs to Chinese aliens

SANTA ANA, Cagayan–Residents of this coastal town and nearby communities have denounced the influx of Chinese aliens here who supposedly come to work at Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport and have been depriving locals of job opportunities.

They disclosed the presence of scores of Chinese laborers, who have been working illegally at construction sites at the SunCity Holiday Leisure Resort in Barangay San Vicente here and have supposedly escaped.

“When one sees all these Chinese working here, he can’t help but feel betrayed that this is happening to our people who were promised to land even the most menial jobs once the casinos are being constructed,” said Ed Pascua, president of the church-based social action commission here.

He said Santa Ana officials and residents are growing restless over the increasing number of Chinese workers at SunCity, many of whom allegedly entered the country without the necessary working permits. 

The residents’ complaints, he said, were bolstered by the arrest on Jan. 31 of 18 Chinese workers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1, who arrived in the country posing as tourists but were actually bound for Santa Ana to work here as laborers.

Immigration officials said the group came in from Macau, and presented a group tourist visa at the immigration inspection counter. When confronted, they supposedly admitted that they were going to Cagayan not as tourists, but to work as construction workers.

Under Republic Act 7922, working visas may be issued by Ceza only to “foreign executives and foreign technicians with highly specialized skills which no Filipino possesses, as certified by the Department of Labor and Employment”.

The continuous stream of Chinese laborers arriving at the freeport zone has caused some disgruntlement among residents here, especially those whose job applications were denied.

“We have a case in Tangatan village who beats up Chinese workers whenever he is drunk, out of sheer jealousy and irritation that aliens held jobs while he could not be accepted even as a utility worker,” Pascua said.

Other residents are annoyed because when the Chinese workers go to drinking joints here, they end up very rowdy when they get drunk, Pascua said.

“Other employees feel that the Chinese workers are getting better treatment from the Chinese bosses than their Filipino counterparts,” he added.

According to Edgar Ugale, San Vicente village chair, the presence of Chinese workers at Suncity has escaped scrutiny by the Ceza management and the Bureau of Immigration because during inspection, the workers were made to hide inside a clandestine storeroom within the casino compound.

Sought for comment, Nilo Aldeguer, Ceza senior deputy administrator, said that while Ceza allows its locators (casino operators) to hire non-Filipino employees, these should be limited only to “foreign nationals occupying top management or executive positions.”

“We have repeatedly warned SunCity about this after we received complaints that it was hiring Chinese workers and we think they have complied already. If we come to confirm the latest reports that it was still employing Chinese workers, we may have to recommend the suspension of their license,” he said.

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