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NEDA expects China pushback on priority hiring of Filipinos

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SOCIOECONOMIC Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said donor countries like China are likely to resist hiring mostly Filipinos in any projects funded by Official Development Assistance (ODA), after Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian filed a bill calling for priority hiring.

“China will probably negotiate and bargain hard,” Mr. Pernia said in a briefing in Makati on Wednesday.

“They (China) are probably going to be more resistant to it,” Mr. Pernia added.

Mr. Gatchalian, through Senate Bill No. 2223, wants to require foreign bidders or contract awardees funded by ODA to hire Filipino workers for manual, technical and other labor.

“Ordinary Filipino workers are deprived of the opportunity to work and partake in the benefits of the loans that Filipino taxpayers will be paying for,” according to Mr. Gatchalian.

Mr. Pernia said prioritizing Filipinos workers is only possible “if ODA partners will agree.”

Mr. Pernia also said that the passing of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) bill, also sponsored by Senator Gatchalian, is unlikely to be passed soon.

The NEDA bill aims to firm up the agency’s role in integrating major regional and local development priorities into the Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) and Medium-Term Regional Development Plans (MTRDPs), respectively.

Mr. Gatchalian, in a statement, said that he hopes to pass the bill before the end of the 17th Congress.

“It’s hard to predict what’s going to happen because the time is rather tight so the window for having the requirements for legislation is still in second (reading). It’s not as close as we would have wanted it to be by this time,” Mr. Pernia said.

Asked if NEDA considers passing the NEDA bill a priority, Mr. Pernia said, “Actually, that was not discussed with NEDA… This is a spontaneous initiative of Senator Gatchalian. We didn’t request it. We didn’t suggest (that he) sponsor a bill like this.”

“I think the House has to be at the same stage so that it can move faster and according to Congressman [Jose Maria C.] Salceda, they will work on it next week,” Mr. Pernia added. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio

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