Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Hanjin task force urges BI to check foreigners employed at shipyard

By Ding Cervantes - PHILIPPINE STAR

ANGELES CITY – The chairman of the People’s Task Force on Hanjin & Subic Bay Inc. urged yesterday the Bureau of Immigration to look into the legitimacy of the employment of foreign nationals at the shipyard facility of the Korean firm Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction, Inc. (Hanjin) in Subic, Zambales.

The appeal was triggered by a formal complaint filed by Hanjin employee Domingo Ecaldre against four Chinese nationals whom he accused of strangling him at the shipyard’s toilet on Aug. 13.

Task force chairman Ramon Lacbain, who had served as Zambales vice governor until last year’s elections, also cited reports that Korean officials at Hanjin have also employed Romanian nationals as cooks.

Lacbain said he had already asked Immigration Commissioner Marcelino Libanan about the foreigners now employed at the $1-billion Korean shipyard.

His task force is a non-government organization supported by Zambales Gov. Amor Deloso

“I have urged the immigration bureau to investigate the legitimacy of the employment of the foreigners, including even Koreans, and find out whether they have the necessary working permits. I don’t know why foreigners have to be hired there since I am sure we are not short of qualified Filipino workers who can take their place,” Lacbain said.

Lacbain said that “many qualified Filipinos have remained unemployed and I don’t think it is right that foreigners should be allowed to compete against them in their own country.”

He said Ecaldre, 40, has prepared criminal charges against the four Chinese nationals following the strangling incident.

Ecaldre brought his complaint before Hanjin’s safety manager Hwa Hyung Jung and the Intelligence and Investigation Office of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority

Ecaldre identified one of the Chinese suspects as Ly Jun who, he said, is also an employee of Hanjin, and four other Chinese nationals identified as Al Gang, Lui Yi and Zhang Peng.

In his complaint, Ecaldre said that on Aug. 13, he asked the Chinse suspects not to use a toilet which was supposed to be reserved for Korean shipyard officials. The following day, the four Chinese again used the toilet and, allegedly without provocation, the suspect surnamed Jun strangled him. The three others joined Jun in the act.

Lacbain lamented that the SBMA has so far ignored Ecaldre’s complaint.

Earlier, the Department of Labor and Employment in Central Luzon advised Hanjin “not to entangle itself further with Philippine laws” amid reports it has been blocking the foreign employment of its former workers.

This, even as DOLE regional director Nathaniel Lacambra said he would be ready with a “comprehensive report” on the accidents, including 15 deaths, involving workers of Hanjin since it established at Subic in 2006.

Lacambra said the report will be ready within the month in time for the next budget hearing in Congress. “It will contain our findings on the incidents, our recommendations, and the actions of Hanjin,” he said.

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