Duterte’s onerous loan agreement with China worsens displacement of Chinese and Filipino workers – Migrante

President Duterte’s continued defilement of our sovereignty allowed China to dictate the Philippine government’s implementation of the Build, Build, Build program. Aside from placing our natural resources and other national assets as collateral, the ludicrous favour extended by the regime towards Chinese firms and contractors further ordained China’s displacement of its workers as seen in the influx of Chinese workers in the Philippines. This condition only proves that Duterte’s infrastructure madness does not truly generate employment opportunities for Filipino workers.

Contrary to the Duterte regime’s original bloated hype that the Build, Build, Build program will provide more employment opportunities for Filipinos at home, the Philippines is actually facing the worst jobless “growth” since the fall of the Marcos dictatorship. In May last year, Budge Secretary Benjamin Diokno wooed OFWs to take advantage of the government’s program which in his projection is set to generate 1.1 Million jobs annually. However, thousands of Filipinos continue to leave the country daily for overseas employment and the Philippines still has the highest unemployment rate in the ASEAN region.

The government’s $24 Billion debt laden infrastructure deal he signed with China in 2016 is now increasingly marred with controversies following an exposé spearheaded by former Bayan Muna representative Neri Colmenares disclosing the one-sided provisions in the US$62 Million loan agreement for the Chico River Irrigation Pump project.

Migrante does not subscribe to the view that Chinese workers are to be blamed for stealing jobs from Filipinos. It is the unequal trade and investment agreement signed by Duterte with China that is depriving Filipinos of employment opportunities.

In its on-going trade war with the US, China has crafted the US$1 Trillion Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) heightening its superpower ambitions by seeking a larger control over global trade through directing the entry of Chinese state-owned and private firms that require hiring Chinese workers. Remittances from overseas Chinese workers would allow China to increase its foreign currency reserves.

Unlike in traditional migrant-receiving countries, the influx of Chinese workers in the Philippines is not due to a shortage in our local labour pool but because of the conditions imposed by China’s investments and loans to the Philippines.

We find the Duterte government’s claim that Filipino workers are unskilled as abhorrent. Under the regime’s thrust of drooling over loans and enormous importations of construction materials from China, Duterte is literally pump-priming China’s economy at the expense of Filipinos and our country’s sovereignty. Since these projects will increase property values in the Philippines, it is only the ruling elite who will benefit while the 99 % will bear the brunt of a jobless and debt-stricken economy.

Chinese and Filipino workers alike are victims to this unequal treaty signed by the Duterte regime with China. The exploitative labour conditions perpetrated by China and its corporations are not secretly shrouded. Under China’s Belt and Road Initiative which is now ravaging in other countries, there have been documented cases of lowly-paid and illegally trafficked Chinese workers who experienced exploitative and hazardous working conditions. This is totally the same story with many of our overseas Filipino workers.

Migrant workers are not criminals. Their right to live and work in dignity and security must be respected regardless of whether they are documented or undocumented. Let us not allow the Duterte regime and the government of China to treat migrants as bargaining chips in their onerous loan agreements.

Junk the unequal trade agreements between the Philippines and China! Reject the unequal conditions tied to the aid imposed by China! Uphold Philippine sovereignty!

Advance genuine land reform and national industrialization! Duterte’s Build, Build, Build will not bring about genuine industrialization and jobs!

No to the criminalization and exploitation of undocumented migrants and workers!

Filipino migrant and workers stand in solidarity with Chinese migrants and workers!

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