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DPWH asked to hire local contractors

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Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri asked Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar to limit the participation of foreign firms in local projects, according to a report by Philippine News Agency.

This measure will address what appears to be a lack in Republic Act No. 4566, or the Contractors’ License Law, which has no specific provision limiting foreign participation in the law. The law’s Implementing Rules and Regulations, however, do.

This discrepancy was brought to light in a Supreme Court ruling released in March, where it decided in favor of the Manila Water Company and the Philippine Competition Commission to void nationality restrictions on construction companies, effectively allowing the entry and participation of foreign construction firms in the industry.

Zubiri relayed the concerns of constituents in Bukidnon and Cagayan de Oro who have approached him to express their fears over this ruling, saying foreign contractors are allowed to participate in small projects such as building a covered court and canals of in a barangay.

“My fear is that if we continue to allow foreign contractors to participate in and implement DPWH projects, whether small or large, they will bring in foreign workers, and not hire locally,” he said.

“We have so much manpower here, especially now that the pandemic has displaced so many people from previous jobs. There are also large numbers of displaced OFWs coming home and seeking employment,” Zubiri said. “We must prioritize them for employment, over foreign workers.”

“Let us allow local construction firms to continue implementing projects that directly benefit local communities, like canals, multipurpose buildings, water supply projects, roads, and such similar projects,” he said. “These firms hire locals, and I am afraid that these workers will be displaced if we allow foreign firms to come in.”

“Especially now that we are trying to rebuild from the effects of Covid, we need Filipinos to start up their jobs, we need the economy to grow. We need to not only buy local, but also hire local.”

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