DOLE readies aid for 250,000 workers affected by COVID-19 quarantine

Robie de Guzman   •   March 18, 2020   •   2754

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Tuesday said it is rolling out financial assistance program for workers affected by the enhanced community quarantine being enforced in Luzon amid the threat of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In a statement, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that under the P1.3-billion COVID Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP), each worker in private establishments will receive P5,000 in cash assistance to be processed through the beneficiary’s payroll accounts.

Bello said 250,000 workers are expected to benefit from the program.

DOLE’s Department Order No. 209, which covers the guidelines for CAMP, states that workers covered by the program include retained workers having reduced working hours due to the implementation of flexible working arrangements by employers, and workers whose employment has been suspended due to the temporary shutdown of their employer’s operation.

Affected workers, regardless of employment status, will receive the one-time unconditional financial assistance in lump-sum, the guidelines stated.

In addition, DOLE will also give affected workers employment facilitation services to match their skills with available local or overseas jobs.

The department said the assistance will be given within two weeks upon the receipt of their application by DOLE regional offices.

Employers are also required to submit a report on their efforts to scale down their operations due to COVID-19 such as adopting flexible working arrangements like work from home, reduced working hours, among others.

The CAMP program does not cover government employees.

DOLE also said that an emergency employment assistance amounting to P180-million will be given to informal sector workers under the Tulong Pangkabuhayan sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD).

“Effective immediately, we are rolling out a P180-million emergency employment program under TUPAD for some 18,000 informal sector workers and the P1.3-billion COVID Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) to benefit about 250,000 workers,” Bello said in a statement.

The labor chief said the initial allocation for TUPAD will pay for barangay works to disinfect the communities, while CAMP represents financial assistance to the quarantine displaced workers.

“We shall undertake other such measures that may be necessary to help mitigate the impact of the current global health emergency,” he said.

At the same time, Bello echoed President Rodrigo Duterte’s appeal to big businesses to give their share in these trying times.

“I particularly make this appeal to the owners and managements of Filipino conglomerates like SM, Ayala, Yuchengco, Aboitiz, Metro Pacific, SMC, Summit, Villar and similar groups of companies who can very well take care of their workers and employees for the duration of the enhanced community quarantine,” he said.

“Again, we earnestly request the big employers to financially help their employees to tide them over during this public emergency,” he added.

Bello also reiterated the government’s appeal to all workers to “cooperate with the government and their employers to implement the necessary measures to contain the spread of COVID-19.”

The Philippines has been placed under a state of calamity due to rising coronavirus infections.

President Rodrigo Duterte also placed the entire Luzon under enhanced community quarantine until April 12 to combat the spread of the virus.

To date, the country has 187 confirmed cases with 14 deaths and four recovered cases.

DOLE denounces ABS-CBN’s claim of compliance with labor practices

Marje Pelayo   •   July 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Wednesday (July 1) denounced the claims made by lawyers and officials of ABS-CBN Corporation that it found the network compliant with labor laws and standards.

In a statement, the labor department said it “denounces attempts by lawyers and officials of ABS-CBN to misrepresent its position to deceive members of the House of Representatives in its bid to gain congressional approval for a new franchise.”

Additionally, DOLE denied ABS-CBN’s claim that the department approves of the firm’s seasonal work status for its program employees.

DOLE said its inspectors found violations of labor practices on the part of ABS-CBN but added that “the company took steps to correct those infractions.”

“It is therefore patently misleading to attribute to us the claim that ABS-CBN is a compliant company,” the agency said adding that there are actually 67 pending cases against ABS-CBN in the National Labor Relation Commission (NLRC) and in various courts.

“We also warn the broadcast firm’s counsels against wrongfully presenting policy issuances of the department to the advantage of their client,” DOLE said.

“The cited rule governing the employee-employer relationship in the broadcast industry 40 years ago, which is not aligned with the provisions of the Labor Code, does not anymore apply to date,” it added.

The labor department said it will not let the matter pass.

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Bello says no to use of OFW funds to aid displaced migrant workers

Robie de Guzman   •   July 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III has rejected calls to use the trust fund being managed by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to provide for the emergency needs of Filipino migrant workers displaced by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“They are sending us more than $30 billion a year. Nakakatulong sa ekonomiya natin. Kaya naman, for once, pay back naman tayo. ‘Wag nating galawin yung pera nila,” Bello said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

The OWWA earlier asked for a P5 billion supplemental budget from Congress to prolong its fund’s sustainability as it warned of a “largely looming” bankruptcy should it continue to spend for the food, accommodation, and transportation of repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFW) beyond 2021.

At a Senate hearing last week, OWWA chief Hans Leo Cacdac said the agency’s P18.79-billion fund is expected to be reduced to P10 billion by the end of this year, and plunge below P1 billion by the end of 2021 should OFWs continue to be displaced and repatriated.

Cacdac said OWWA has so far spent more than P800 million for the repatriation, accommodation and cash assistance for returning OFWs.

Bello said OWWA funds should be spent more on its members’ needs, such as for livelihood or their children’s education.

“Dapat gobyerno ang magbigay ng pera para matiyak natin na lahat ng kailangan ng ating mga OFW ay matugunan natin… Bakit naman, for the first time na hihingi naman sila ng tulong, nangangailangan sila ng tulong, bakit naman kailangan nating galawin yung pondo nila?… ‘Wag natin gamitin ang pera na ‘yan sa panahong ito,” the labor chief said.

“Government has to take extra steps in order to assure additional budget to help our OFWs,” he added.

“Huwag nating hayaan na maramdaman ng OFW na tinitipid sila sa kabila ng napakalaki nilang naitulong sa ekonomiya natin in the good and in the best of times,” he further stated.

Bello said around 63,000 Filipino workers have already been brought home while about 90,000 others remain stranded in other countries and are awaiting repatriation.

Duterte extends ECQ in Cebu City; GCQ in Metro Manila until July 15

Marje Pelayo   •   July 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has decided to extend the implementation of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Cebu City until July 15, 2020.

The President noted the “stubbornness” of its residents despite strict government protocols to curb the spread of COVID-19. He cited the situation in Talisay City where people tend to ignore social distancing protocols, with some even engaging in drinking sprees and gambling.

Ayaw ninyo maniwala, bakit marami? One of the reasons — even without consulting the Body— because you did not follow rules,” President Duterte said.

“You have the highest. Cebu is now the new hotspot for COVID-19. Bakit? Marami sa inyo ay hindi sumusunod,” he added.

The President expressed concern over the situations in Cebu City which he hopes will improve through the supervision of Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu.

Meanwhile, Metro Manila and the following areas will remain under general community quarantine (GCQ) until July 15:

  • Cavite
  • Rizal
  • Benguet
  • Lapu-Lapu City
  • Mandaue City
  • Leyte
  • Ormoc
  • Southern Leyte
  • Talisay City, Minglanilla and Consolacion Municipalities in Cebu Province

The President commended the response of residents in the said areas to the government-imposed protocols which helped slow down the rate of COVID-19 infection.

You know Manila, maraming tao but because sumunod nila — with few violations thereabout— we here in Manila have a good chance of at least avoiding it,” he said.

To save the economy, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguz recommended to the President the further relaxing of quarantine measures in Metro Manila and the CALABARZON region. 

The rest of the country, meanwhile, will remain under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) specifically those identified as moderate and low risk areas where localized community quarantine and minimum health standards may strictly be observed. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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