70% of Filipinos ‘worried’ about influx of Chinese workers in PH

MANILA, Philippines – The influx of Chinese nationals seeking to work in the Philippines has become a cause for concern for Filipinos, with a big majority of respondents in a recent survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) saying they were "worried" about this development.

A survey released by SWS on Thursday night, December 5, showed 70% of Filipinos were “worried about the rising number of foreign Chinese workers in the Philippines.” Specifically, 31% of respondents said they were “worried a great deal,” while 39% said they were “somewhat worried.” 

Majority of the respondents – 52% – also agreed that the increasing number of Chinese working in the country was a “threat to the country’s overall security.”

Of this number, the survey showed 27% “strongly agreed” with this statement while 25% “somewhat agreed.” Fourteen percent said they "somewhat disagree" with the idea that the rising number of Chinese workers was a threat to the country's security, while 13% said they "strongly disagree." Twenty-one percent were undecided on the matter. 

The survey, conducted from September 27 to 30, asked respondents 3 questions about foreign Chinese workers in the country, in the following sequence:

The survey found 12% of respondents saying there were “very many” foreign Chinese working in their locality, 19% saying there were “somewhat many,” 25% saying there were "few," and 44% saying there were "almost none."

SWS said visibility of Chinese workers was highest in Metro Manila, where 43% of respondents said they saw “very many” or “somewhat many” workers. This was followed by Visayas at 37%, Balance Luzon at 28%, and Mindanao at 19%.

Meanwhile, survey results showed worry about the growing number of Chinese workers was high in all areas of the Philippines. However, it was highest in Metro Manila at 75%, followed by the Visayas at 71%, Balance Luzon at 69%, and Mindanao at 67%.

The survey was conducted nationwide through face-to-face interviews with 1,800 adults aged 18 years old and above. The survey items on people's opinions on Chinese workers were non-commissioned, which means they were "included on SWS' own initiative and released as a public service."

The margin of error was ±2.3% for national percentages, ±4% each for Balance Luzon and Mindanao, and ±6% each for Metro Manila and the Visayas.

Behind the rising number of Chinese workers: Earlier in 2019, Philippine officials expressed concern over the large number of Chinese working in the Philippines, with security officials sounding the alarm on the influx of workers as a possible "threat." 

Many of these workers are employed by Philippine Online Gambling Operations, which are supposed to be regulated by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor). Insiders estimated that there are "easily" around 100,000 to 250,000 Chinese employed in POGOs.

Many Chinese coming to work in the Philippines are poor and often exploited by their employers. They are also exposed to racism amid tensions between China and the Philippines. (READ: A Chinese online gambling worker's plight in Manila

Following complaints over Chinese workers' “unruly behavior," Pagcor proposed to move Chinese working in POGOs to “self-contained” hubs. The idea was slammed by the Chinese government, which urged the Philippines to protect that the rights of the Chinese workers. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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