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Filipino first bills filed

LAWMAKERS are pushing for legislation that would ensure Filipino contractors and workers will be given priority in local private and government construction projects, especially in this difficult time of economic slump due to the coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic.

At least three bills have been recently filed in the House of Representatives seeking to amend Republic Act (RA) 4566, or the Contractors’ Licensing Law, in a bid to protect the interest and welfare of Filipino contractors and workers in the local construction industry.

Davao Oriental Rep. Mayo Almario filed House Bill (HB) No. 7816 that would impose stricter requirements on foreign participation in construction activities in the Philippines.

Under the proposed measure, no foreign contractor shall be given license to operate in the country unless the Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board (PCAB) certifies that no local contractor can undertake the project applied for.

“To fully protect the interests of the Philippines and her people, the Filipino contractor must be given priority in local construction activities to develop his own native land, and only if he cannot do it will a foreign contractor be allowed,” Almario said.

In a separate bill, CWS Party-list Rep. Romeo Momo Sr. sought to strengthen the safeguards for domestic micro, small and medium enterprises or MSMEs in the construction industry.

Momo’s HB 7893 aims to “put Filipino first by ensuring that with the entry of foreign contractors, Filipino industry, labor and materials are given preference, instead of allowing foreign workers and suppliers to earn the lion’s share of local projects.”

A similar measure—HB 7918—was filed by ACT-CIS Party-list Reps. Jocelyn Tulfo, Eric Yap and Niña Taduran, who believed that Filipinos must be given preference in the country’s “fastest growing sector and among the biggest contributors of jobs.”

According to the party-list lawmakers, the proposed measure would ensure that local construction companies are “uniquely positioned to be at the forefront of the economic recovery” from the onslaught of COVID-19.