DOLE reminds companies, employees of COVID-19 prevention protocols as work resumes Monday

Marje Pelayo   •   May 29, 2020   •   297

MANILA, Philippines — Metro Manila and some parts of the country will begin the implementation of general community quarantine (GCQ) on Monday (June 1).

Alongside the shift from modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ)to GCQ is the reopening of companies and establishments with a number of employees returning to their workplaces.

Based on records by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) around 2.8 million workers stopped working, some were laid off, due to the impact of coronavirus disease (COVID-1) pandemic on the country’s economy. 

Thus, many of those whose income were affected during the quarantine will need to work harder to recover their finances with the reopening of industries and sectors.

“Considering na matagal silang nawalan ng trabaho [Considering the length of time that they have been idle], you can just imagine the rush of workers kasi no-work-no-pay,” Bello noted.

“Now that they can work, for sure they will do everything within their means to report back to office,” he added.

The Secretary also expressed concern about the workers’ dilemma over the limited operation of mass transportation.

Street sweeper Lolita Danieles just returned to work on Tuesday (May 26) after two months of staying at home. 

However, she struggles with transportation as she has to pay P70 for a tricycle ride from Payatas to Litex, just halfway to her workplace in Timog Avenue.

“Minsan ang bus pumapara kami hindi kami hinihintuan. Maghintay talaga kami. Tyaga lang, [There are buses passing by but they do not stop. We need to wait patiently,]” she said.

“Kanina nga lang hinintuan kami nung kotse, siningil sa amin tig P50 isa, [Earlier a car owner offered us a ride but charged us P50 each],” she said.

Meanwhile, an employee of a construction company, Crispin Acincieno said he opted for a two-way personal service from his home in Bulacan to his work in Quezon City instead of commuting. 

“Definitely hindi muna. Kasi hindi pa naman sigurado. Hindi pa naman 100% safe na mag-public transport [Not yet for now, definitely, because it’s not yet sure if public transportations are 100% safe],” he said. 

Secretary Bello reminds employers and employees to always observe health protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

These include the regular wearing of masks, temperature checking, setting up disinfection stations with alcohol and foot baths as well as maintaining proper social distance. 

Ating sinisiguro na ang ating mga worker na nakapasok ay ligtas sa contamination at transmission ng COVID-19 [We want to make sure, that our returning employees and workers are safe from contamination and transmission of COVID-19],” Bello said. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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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