TABUK CITY, Kalinga – The Cordillera office of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE-CAR) uncovered that some sixty Chinese nationals reportedly working with a Chinese contractor without the required alien employment permits for the ongoing construction of the P4.37 billion Chico River Pump Irrigation project in the border of Kalinga and Cagayan provinces.
DOLE-CAR regional director Exequiel Ronnie Guzman said during a recent inspection, labor inspectors discovered the Chinese contractor does not possess the special contractor’s license from the Office of the President for it to be authorized to implement the project while the 60 Chinese nationals do not possess the required alien employment permits for them to be allowed to work in the country.
Further, the labor official added that while it is true that the Chinese contractor complied with the prevailing labor standards, the same did not comply with the occupational health and safety standards, thus, it was required to present its own construction safety and health plan during a hearing scheduled in Baguio city next week to prevent the issuance of a work stoppage order that will seriously delay the prosecution of the multi-billion peso irrigation project.
“We do not want to be accused of delaying the implementation of the project but we want to ensure the contractor complies with all existing standards to ensure safety in the workplace considering that the same is considered to be hazardous based on the results of our latest inspection in the project site,” Guzman stressed.
The DOLE-CAR official pointed out that once the contractor fails to present the alien employment permits of the 60 Chinese nationals working in the project, the matter will be transmitted to the Bureau of Immigration and Depuration (BID) for the imposition of the appropriate sanctions against them, including the possible deportation of the workers back to China.
According to him, in case the contractor presents the requirements for the issuance of the permits, not all the Chinese nationals working in the project site will be issued permits considering that the same will have to pass through stringent evaluation to ascertain on who among the Chinese nationals will be issued the permits to work in the project.
Guzman admitted the contractor showed a special contractor’s license but it was intended for a sewerage project in Quezon City and not the ongoing pump irrigation project that is why the Chinese contractor was required to present the required document in the next hearing called for the purpose.
He claimed the Chinese contractor even attempted to secure permits in DOLE Region II but the same request was referred to DOLE-CAR by his counterparts because the project site is situated within the jurisdiction of the said office.
Earlier, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) ordered the temporary suspension of the project for the absence of the required free prior informed consent (FPIC) but the same was lifted after the Commission en banc was satisfied over the requisites that was presented by the regional office of the agency and the presence of the tribal leaders attesting to the importance of the project. By HENT