Duterte urged: Help 200,000 undocumented OFWs in China

Mara Cepeda
Most of these undocumented OFWs are working as household workers and private tutors, says ACTS-OFW Representative John Bertiz

HELP OFWS. ACTS-OFW Representative John Bertiz (extreme left) wants President Rodrigo Duterte to help undocumented OFWs in China. Photo by Mara Cepeda/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Days after President Rodrigo Duterte returned from a trip to Beijing, a lawmaker urged the President to help some 200,000 undocumented overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) based in China.  

‘Yung concern kasi ng sector namin, being the [one] representing OFW, is the legalization muna of the agreements between China and Philippines. Kasi hanggang ngayon kasi, ‘yung mga nagtatrabaho sa China, majority of them, 200,000 are puro undocumented. Very few lang ‘yung talagang documented,” said ACTS-OFW Representative John Bertiz on Monday, October 24.  

(The concern of my sector, as the one representing OFWs, is the legalization of the agreements between China and the Philippines. Until now, majority of the 200,000 Filipinos working in China are undocumented. Very few are documented.)

According to Bertiz, most of the undocumented OFWs in China work as household workers and private tutors.  

Wala po talaga ‘tong formal na agreement sa ating bansa at ang China po, hindi nagbibigay ng work visa on those categories kasi maapektuhan nga ‘yung ilang million din nilang mga manggagawa sa China (There’s no formal agreement between our country and China to give work visas for these categories because it would really affect the millions of workers in China),” he said.

The Philippine consulate-general in Hong Kong had earlier estimated that 200,000 OFWs are working as maids in mainland China, with most of the workers recruited from Hong Kong.

In 2015, the Philippine Embassy in Beijing warned Filipinos against accepting jobs as household workers and private tutors in China because it is against Chinese laws. 

Bertiz said he hopes Duterte would now set in motion a process to help legalize the contracts of these OFWs. 

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III earlier said he would be asking the President to discuss the issue of undocumented OFWs with Chinese authorities, but the matter was not among Duterte’s listed accomplishments in Beijing.

Latest data from Commission on Filipino Overseas only puts the number of Filipinos in China at 29,691. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.