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

Robie de Guzman   •   March 18, 2020   •   3286

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.

OFWs exempted from travel ban on countries with new COVID-19 strain cases

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in countries with a travel ban from the government are exempted and will be allowed to enter the Philippines, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

In a press conference on Tuesday (December 29), Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said President Rodrigo Duterte wants OFWs to be able to return to their families.

Bello said returning OFWs would need to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Some 60,000 to 100,000 OFWs are expected to return in the next two weeks, he added.

Duterte, on Monday (December 28), approved the imposition of travel ban on countries with confirmed reports of the new strain of COVID-19. The travel ban will take effect on December 30 at 12:01 a.m. until January 15. AAC

DOLE’s TUPAD program pays P4.5-B to nearly 1 million workers

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 29, 2020

The Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) cash-for-work program has provided emergency employment to close to one million workers.

As of December 28 under the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) program, 939,209 informal sector workers hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and those affected by the successive typhoons last month, received assistance.

More than P4.5 billion in wages in just close to two months was provided by the program to the informal sector workers.

Beneficiaries of the program are paid for work done for a minimum of 10 days to a maximum of 16 days based on the threshold requirements in the area.

Bureau of Workers with Special Concern (BWSC) director Ma. Karina Perida-Trayvilla said that 797,222 beneficiaries had been paid while 141,989 have ongoing jobs.

Trayvilla said TUPAD may reach more than one million beneficiaries with more funds still available from the P6-billion appropriation under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2).

The National Capital Region topped the regions with the biggest TUPAD fund allocations with P923.9 million. It was followed by CALABARZON with P593.2 million, and Central Luzon with P587.1 million. AAC

DOLE wants OFWs, minimum wage earners included among priorities for COVID-19 vaccine

Marje Pelayo   •   December 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) wants overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and minimum wage workers to be among the first to receive the vaccine for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) once it becomes available.

In an interview with UNTV, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said minimum wage earners comprise about 60% to 70% of the country’s overall workforce thus, they also should be prioritized in the administration of COVID-19 vaccines.

Kailangan tiyakin natin ang kaligtasan ng ating mga minimum wage workers para matiyak natin din yung ating negosyo at ang ating economic recovery (We need to ensure the safety of our minimum wage workers so we can guarantee the success of our businesses and economic recovery),” Bello said.

He also reiterated that overseas Filipino workers play an important role in the country’s economy in the form of remittances, hence they should be listed at least among the top six in the order of priority.

Doon naman sa mga Overseas Filipino Workers, tinagurian silang bagong bayani, modern day heroes so they should be treated as modern days heroes (Overseas Filipino workers are considered modern-day heroes so they should be treated as that),” the Secretary said.

ALU-TUCP Spokesperson Alan Tanjusay supports the idea saying workers are exposed to threats of COVID-19 and the possibility of transmission is high.

He also suggested the possibility of investors leaving the country and transferring to other countries that are already administering the vaccine.

May posibilidad na magsilipat ang mga investors doon sa mga bansang nabakunahan na dahil regular na ang mobility nila, ang pagbyahe ng mga manggagawa (There is a possibility that investors would go to countries where vaccines are available because mobility and travel of workers there are back to normal),” Tanjusay argued.

DOLE said the expenses for the vaccination may be shouldered by either the government or the employers.

The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) said big companies could probably afford to shoulder the expenses.

The only concern, he said, are the small and medium companies that comprise about 90% of businesses in the country.

Kahit anong gawin natin hindi kayang magpabakuna noon. Iyon nga lang 13th month pay alam mo naman nagkahirapan tayo. Iyon pa kaya sa bakuna na iyan (Whatever we do they wouldn’t be able to afford the vaccine. They can hardly provide for their workers’ 13th month pay, how much more for the vaccine),” said ECOP president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr.

The employers’ group said, it should be the government that will shoulder the expenses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

ECOP said it is still up to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) as to who they want to prioritize for the vaccination and not all workers are obliged to take it. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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