DOLE studying employers’ plea to subsidize 13th month pay

Robie de Guzman   •   October 14, 2020   •   807

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Wednesday said it is studying the plea of some “distressed” employers to subsidize the cost of the 13th  month pay of their workers.

DOLE said it would deliberate on the proposal after its meeting with labor groups and business owners on Tuesday.

The labor department added that it will coordinate with the Department of Finance to discuss the employers’ suggestion.

DOLE Undersecretary Benjo Benevidez, however, stressed that employers who may avail of the possible subsidy must pass the requirements and prove that their businesses have indeed took a hit in the last three business quarters.

“Kung ikaw ay nagsasabing distressed employer ka, patunayan mon a distressed employer ka… Isa po sa proseso ay magpunta ka sa DOLE at aaprubahan yung kanilang application,” he said.

DOLE met with employers and labor groups to discuss the possible deferment of the 13th month pay due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Under Presidential Decree No. 851, companies are required to give workers their 13th month pay and that this should be released before the end of each year, separate from other year-end bonuses.

The department said labor groups are firm on their position to receive their 13th month pay as provided by the law.

The employers are willing to give workers their 13th month pay but the pandemic has affected their capacity to do so, it added.

DOLE said it will announce its decision on the matter in the coming days. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Mirasol Abogadil)

Philippines agrees to resume joint marine scientific research expedition with Vietnam

Maris Federez   •   November 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines and Viet Nam on Wednesday (November 17) held the 9th Joint Permanent Working Group on Maritime and Ocean Concerns (JPWG-MOC).

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs said the joint session done via video conferencing was “aimed at upholding the rule of the law in the South China Sea and the revival of the joint marine scientific research expedition, which has been halted since 2007.”

DFA-Maritime and Ocean Affairs Office Assistant Secretary Maria Angela A. Ponce led the Philippine delegation; while the Viet Nam delegation was led by National Boundary Committee (NBC) Vice Chairman Nguyễn Mạnh Đông.

“The Philippines and Viet Nam discussed various initiatives for science-based cooperation particularly on marine scientific research, marine environment protection, and hydrometeorology in the 9th JPWG-MOC,” the DFA said.

“Both delegations also substantively covered other issues, including coordination within regional and international fora, fisheries, and maritime security cooperation,” it added.

The DFA said the JPWG-MOC serves as the main platform for dialogue and coordination, practical cooperation, and capacity-building activities among the Philippines and Viet Nam’s maritime agencies.

It is a specialized mechanism established under the Philippines-Viet Nam Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC).

Convened annually, the last JPWG-MOC was held in 2019.  The COVID-19 pandemic halted it in 2020. —/mbmf

Philippines begins pilot test of limited in-person classes

Robie de Guzman   •   November 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Select schools in the Philippines on Monday reopened its doors to students in basic education as pilot implementation of limited face-to-face classes begins.

The pilot resumption of physical classes was implemented after nearly two years of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement, the Department of Education (DepEd) welcomed the participating learners, teachers, and personnel in 100 public schools for the start of the pilot implementation of limited face-to-face classes.

“We are thankful to everyone who supported this key phase in our safe return to school advocacy, from the planning stage since 2020 to this monumental day,” the department said.

The DepEd also expressed gratitude for the assistance of the Department of Health, the government’s Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19, child health experts, local government units, international and local partners, school personnel, parents, and other stakeholders for “reinforcing our shared responsibility framework in this critical undertaking.”

“Most importantly, we are happy to see our learners inside our classrooms as we recognize the significance of face-to-face learning in their social development,” the DepEd said.

The department expressed hope that in the coming weeks, more learners in public and private schools will follow suit as the approved number of pilot participants increases.

“As we take a huge step of reintroducing face-to-face classes amidst the public health situation, we are optimistic that our Bayanihan spirit will live on to ensure the safety of involved stakeholders and the success of this pilot run,” it said.

In line with this, the DepEd appealed to the public to “always follow the required health protocols and standards” against COVID-19.

“With everyone’s help in improving our country’s COVID-19 situation, our vision to safely reopen more schools nationwide is not a far reality. Together, let us mark this day as our leap of faith towards realizing Ligtas na Balik-Eskwela!” it added.

Physical classes in most schools in the country have been suspended since March 2020 due to the threat of novel coronavirus disease.

Bello tells micro, small biz:  Apply for a 13th-month pay loan

Maris Federez   •   November 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has announced that micro and small enterprises that are having difficulty in financing the 13th-month pay of their employees can apply for a government loan.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III made the call on Friday during the ceremonial launch of the loan program with the Department of Trade and Industry and its financing arm, the Small Business Corporation (SBCorp), reminding employers that the grant of 13th-month pay is mandatory.

The labor chief, however, assured establishments that are still struggling amid the re-opening of the economy of the government’s support through SBCorp.

“Let me remind the employers that the grant of 13th-month pay is mandatory. We issued a Labor Advisory where we maintained that no exemption and no deferment will be allowed on the payment of the 13th-month pay,” Bello said.

“So, with this loan facility from SB Corporation, there is no more reason to not give the 13th-month pay,” he added.

As of November 12, a total of 25 loan applications amounting to P5.052 million were already approved by SBCorp.

DOLE said qualified borrowers are the micro and small enterprises that have implemented flexible work arrangements and registered under the agency’s Establishment Reporting System as of October 15, 2021.

The zero-interest rate, no collateral loan program can cover up to 40 employees per establishment.

The loanable amount is at P12,000 per current employee which is payable in 12 months, inclusive of the three-month grace period.

“I encourage our employers, especially yung mga nahihirapan pa, to avail of this facility so that they can comply with the mandate to pay our workers with what is due them, especially this Christmas season,” said Bello.

The labor chief invites interested micro and small enterprises to apply at www.bayanihancares.ph. —/mbmf

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