35 'illegal' Chinese workers arrested in Parañaque construction site

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 20) — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has arrested 35 Chinese nationals working at a construction site in Parañaque City despite the government's policy banning foreigners from engaging in manual labor.

In a press release Thursday, the BI said a 27-man intelligence team nabbed on Wednesday Chinese nationals who were caught doing construction work.

"They were caught doing tile setting, finishing works, wood works, and other construction activities, which is in clear violation of the conditions of their stay,” BI Intelligence Division Chief Fortunato Manahan, Jr. said.

He said the operation was launched as the bureau received several complaints on "aliens causing trouble" at the construction site in a subdivision in Parañaque. The BI did not identify the exact location, but noted that at least two construction companies in the area were hiring illegal aliens.

To be able to work in the country, a foreign national needs either an alien employment permit or special working permit, but both do not cover manual labor and other kinds of blue collar work.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said the bureau will initiate deportation proceedings against the construction workers to force them out of the country.

"They will be deported and barred from returning to the Philippines,” he said in a statement.

The government is addressing illegal foreign labor amid concerns over the influx of workers from China. A large number of Chinese nationals have flown to the country since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office in 2016 and cultivated close ties with the East Asian giant which has provided funds and loans for several projects under the administration's massive infrastructure program.

Bureau of Local Employment Director Dominique Tutay earlier told CNN Philippines that from 2015 to 2018, there were 169,893 foreign nationals working in the country – about 51 percent of them Chinese.

Morente on Thursday stressed that the government is not cracking down on Chinese nationals alone, but on all illegal foreign workers of any nationality. He also urged Filipinos and law-abiding foreign nationals to report illegal foreigners in their area.