DOLE insists regularization of workers is not ‘conditional’

Marje Pelayo   •   July 11, 2018   •   6323

MANILA, Philippines – Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III met with leaders of contractual workers who were retrenched rather than regularized following the issuance of the Executive Order on regularization by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Contractual workers who were laid off from PLDT who belonged to PLDT Organization of Workers and Employees for Rights (POWER) were present in the meeting together with labor advocates from Defend Job Philippines and Kilos Na, Manggagawa.

Bello reiterated what’s written in the E.O. which ordered concerned companies to regularize all contractual employees as directed by President Rodrigo Duterte in line with the government’s resolve to end contractualization in the country.

In a clarificatory order issued by DOLE to PLDT signed by the Labor Secretary, the department said that “pursuant to existing laws, the regularization of workers as a result of the finding of labor-only contracting takes effect by operation of law, and is not subject to any condition.”

DOLE further warned that “Any act or condition imposed that frustrates or tend to frustrate the order to regularize is contumacious and shall be dealt with in accordance with law.”

During the meeting, Bello discussed with the workers the compensation that they still have to receive from their previous employers such as unpaid wages and other benefits.

In the meantime, Bello advised the retrenched workers to apply under DOLE’s emergency employment program while further clarifications are being addressed. – Aiko Miguel / Marje Pelayo

DOLE suspends deployment of domestic workers to Saudi Arabia

Maris Federez   •   November 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has suspended the deployment of newly hired household service workers (HSW) to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia following reports of domestic workers being abused by their employers in the said country.

Based on an urgent memorandum by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, the suspension will not be lifted until guidelines on the recruitment of domestic workers are finalized.

Bello directed the Philippine Overseas Labor Officer (POLO) in KSA to stop the verification of documents of newly hired HSWs to be deployed in the said country.

Bello cited a report regarding a certain retired general in Saudi Arabia named Ayed Thawah Al Jealid who still continues to recruit Filipinos to work in the said country despite complaints of abuse lodged against him.

The DOLE chief said Al Jealid always seemed to get through the verification of employment contract processes of POLO and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) by using other individuals to pose as employers.

“POEA and POLO need to come out with a new set of verification guidelines to prevent the abuse committed by Gen. Ayed (Thawah Al Jealid) in KSA,” Bello said.

“Gen. Ayed was able to circumvent POLO and POEA rules on verification by placing in the employment contract a pseudo-KSA employer when in fact he was the real employer,” he added.

Bello recommended to the POEA and POLO to indicate the addresses of the blacklisted employers alongside their names.

“Under the new verification guidelines, it’s not only the employer who is blacklisted but also the address of the employer,” Bello said.

Meanwhile, POLO-KSA clarified that only newly hired household service workers are included in the said suspended deployment.

It added that the deployment of domestic workers with renewed contracts and skilled workers is still in effect.

“The suspension does not include verification of renewed contracts of HSWs. Except for Mega and Construction companies, the suspension does not also affect the processing and verification of employment documents relating to the hiring of skilled workers,” it said. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Aileen Cerrudo)

Bello vows justice for OFW raped in Saudi Arabia

Marje Pelayo   •   July 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Monday (July 5) directed Philippine representatives in Saudi Arabia to take immediate action on the case of a Filipina overseas worker who was raped by her foreign recruiter and abused by her employer there.

Specifically, Bello ordered the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Riyadh to initiate appropriate legal steps against the suspects, and impose administrative penalties on the local recruitment agency which deployed the victim.

The OFW identified by the name Michelle was allegedly raped by the owner of the foreign recruitment agency (FDA) and molested by one of her employers before she was repatriated recently.

The Labor Chief directed POLO to take legal action and go after Meshail Mabrook Al Bassani Al Qahtani and employer Abdulaziz Ahlas, owners of Home Comfort Recruitment Office/Home Comfort Manpower Services, for the rape and abuse of the Filipina.

Bello also directed the POEA to penalize the local company SAMA International Recruitment Agency which reportedly ignored Michelle’s complaints and her ordeal in Saudi Arabia.

In his urgent memorandum to Labor Attache Fidel Macauyag, Bello instructed the POLO in Riyadh to work with authorities there for immediate legal action there as the case is cannot be processed in the Philippines “due to lack of jurisdiction.”

“The crime happened outside of the Philippines and the principle of extraterritoriality can’t be applied to the case,” he explained.

Nevertheless, Bello vowed justice to the aggrieved OFW.

“I will do everything possible to help our OFW fight back against her tormentors,” Bello said.

He noted that he already ordered the suspension of the FDA’s accreditation with the POLO.

He also directed Macauyag to coordinate closely with Arab authorities for the filing of criminal cases and prosecution of Al Qahtani and Ahlas.

On the other hand, Bello tasked POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia to probe Ahlas over violations of POEA rules and impose penalties for the sexual abuse committed against the OFW.

The Labor chief also told Olalia to sanction the FDA and Qahtani.

Likewise, he ordered POEA to build up an administrative case against SAMA and suspend the agency to prevent further violation and exploitation of Filipino migrant workers.

Upon her arrival in the country, Michelle went to the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) where she was given legal assistance in the preparation for her sworn statement.

PAO also conducted forensic tests on the OFW which yielded results indicating sexual abuse and injuries.

Government, business groups to create 1M job opportunities for Filipinos — DOLE

Marje Pelayo   •   June 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) leads key government agencies in a collaboration with major business groups to create one million jobs this year.

The project is in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s approval and signing of an executive order adopting the National Employment Recovery Strategy (NERS).

NERS is an employment recovery plan from 2021 to 2022 which aims “to create a policy environment that encourages the generation and improved access to employment, livelihood, and training opportunities; improve employability, wellness, and productivity of workers; and provide support to existing and emerging businesses to preserve and create employment.”

Coincidingly, the EO prompts the formation of a task force to oversee the project’s implementation.

“This project synchronizes with safe and gradual reopening of the economy and addresses the impact of the prolonged community quarantine to thousands of smaller enterprises and millions of Filipinos workers,” noted Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

The project known as Reform, Rebound, Recover: One Million Jobs for 2021 prompts the business and employers sector to primarily identify job vacancies from its member companies and find jobs for the qualified but unemployed jobseekers.

Through the NERS Task Force, the government sector will secure vaccination for workers who qualify for the partnership project.

Also, it will organize job caravans; provide a profile of workers who can be referred to existing job vacancies; and offer transportation services to workers who will get their vaccination jabs.

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