A spokesman for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday that Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III will investigate reports of Chinese-owned businesses that only accept Chinese customers on Philippine soil.
“We have to investigate that, if that is true. We cannot allow that to happen. They cannot be discriminating against Filipinos. It’s a public business and therefore it should cater to all,” spokesman Salvador Panelo said at a news briefing on Monday.
Panelo urged Filipinos who believe they have been discriminated against to file complaints with local government officials or the national Department of Trade and Industry.
Philippine Senator Panfilo Lacson on Sunday urged the government to shut down Chinese-only businesses and act to “prioritize Filipino entrepreneurs” by blocking Chinese investments in small- and medium-sized business enterprises (known collectively as “SMEs”).
“If investors coming from China would do business even in SMEs, that will be alarming because many of our countrymen will be deprived of investment opportunities,” he said.
“It’s really annoying that Filipinos are being prevented from entering restaurants,” Lacson remarked. “We’re being treated like second-class citizens in our own land.”
Lacson’s remarks were prompted by a flurry of complaints on social media about restaurants and convenience stores that serve only Chinese nationals. Earlier this year, some Filipinos expressed resentment toward the growing number of restaurants in tourist areas that use only Chinese on their signs and menus and appeared to hire only Chinese employees.
A huge number of Chinese immigrants have moved to the Philippines since President Duterte set aside Philippine territorial claims against China and sought better political and financial relations with Beijing in 2016.
The normally outspoken Philippine president has taken pains to avoid voicing criticism that could jeopardize Chinese investment, but some other Filipino politicians have complained the Chinese influx is driving up property prices and taking jobs away from local workers.