On foreign workers and players
BIZLINKS - Rey Gamboa (The Philippine Star) - October 15, 2019 - 12:00am

Two sectors in Philippine society, specifically labor and sports, currently confront issues related to the influx of foreigners in their respective areas that many believe have implications with other segments of Philippine society.

As debates on benefits and negative impacts rage on, we intend to present both sides with the hope that government and affected stakeholders develop and adopt appropriate policies and standards that will be for the benefit of the greater number of Filipinos and to uplift Philippine society as a whole.

Below are some of the sentiments and views we have so far gathered. To keep the dialogue healthy and productive, we would appreciate receiving other reaction and comments.

On foreign workers

While the government cited benefits regarding the presence of foreign workers in Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGO) or infrastructure projects, there are visible negative effects.

On the reported cases of criminal activities, a recent editorial in one publication stated: “These cases underscore the rise in the crime rate and social problems associated with the explosion of POGOs in the country and the influx of Chinese workers in the last couple of years.”

Groups in economic and social circles have also noted other observable negative impacts of the presence of the large number of foreign workers. These include skyrocketing house rentals to the detriment of ordinary Filipinos, violation of laws on residency and employment that deprive jobs for Filipinos, strain on law enforcement and the justice system and agencies with increase in crime incidence, and increase in demand of basic services by foreigners without the commensurate payment of due taxes.

Reportedly, there are over 200,000 foreign workers just in POGO operations. There could be thousands more in infrastructure projects funded by foreign loans or foreign development assistance.

Thousands were slipped in to the country during the time when control procedures were lacking or not implemented, and since they were not properly registered, thousands of these “illegal foreign workers” are not paying taxes.

On foreign players in sports

Deputy Speaker Mikee Romero urged collegiate leagues to stop fielding foreign players. To justify his bill that would prohibit schools from enlisting foreigners for sports competition, Romero stated, “This practice of bringing non-Filipino and foreign recruits does not help in the development of any sport in the country. In fact, it is counter-productive, as it shuns the growth of homegrown athletes.”  

Romero added that local colleges and universities are “so engrossed in winning a championship that they don’t recruit Filipinos anymore, and instead go to African and American countries to recruit players.”

A collegiate basketball fan speaks

A reader who requested to remain anonymous, and apparently an ardent collegiate basketball fan, wrote to support the Romero proposal. Here are excerpts from his letter:

“My position in this issue is that foreign players are not beneficial to the future of Philippine basketball especially if we want to achieve the goal of once again being No. 1 in Asia. I have chosen this stand for the following reasons:

“The main reason behind the popularity of recruiting foreign players is that it has become a shortcut for schools in the collegiate leagues to instantly upgrade their teams and win instant championships – instead of investing time and effort to search and develop local talents.

“These foreign players provide teams undue advantage over teams that do not have foreign players. Furthermore, only rich schools can afford to recruit foreign players. This is a clear deviation from the leagues’ purpose, which is to promote camaraderie and sportsmanship among players and among the participating schools.

“These foreign players, mostly Africans, come here not for the purpose of studying but only to play basketball. Worse is that these foreign players are only using our leagues’ and universities’ resources to hone their skills and build up their resumes and their finances – through the big allowances given to them.

“After their stint in our collegiate leagues, they just leave to play as imports in other countries. The financial resources that schools have been and will be spending to recruit and maintain foreign players can instead be used to develop our local talents – which would be beneficial to our cause in the long run.

“With the (tall) foreign players around, our local big men would not receive their maximum exposure.

Deprived local players

“Locals who can play but are in need of academic assistance are being deprived of good ‘free’ education as they are being displaced by the foreign players.

“These bolster the argument that we have to develop homegrown Filipino basketball talents and it would help if we can stop foreign players from playing here with the present circumstances.”

Let’s hope that the government is able to come up with better laws or regulations that would quickly correct the ill-effects that the influx of foreign workers and players in the country have currently spawned.

A good balance is always desired that would support the country’s goals, either in improving economic growth or promoting sports development. As a developing country, short-term goals must never compromise long-term aspirations.

Facebook and Twitter

We are actively using two social networking websites to reach out more often and even interact with and engage our readers, friends and colleagues in the various areas of interest that I tackle in my column. Please like us on www.facebook.com/ReyGamboa and follow us on www.twitter.com/ReyGamboa.

Should you wish to share any insights, write me at Link Edge, 25th Floor, 139 Corporate Center, Valero Street, Salcedo Village, 1227 Makati City. Or e-mail me at reydgamboa@yahoo.com. For a compilation of previous articles, visit www.BizlinksPhilippines.net.

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