DOLE to complete repatriation of all OFW COVID dead from Saudi Arabia next week

Marje Pelayo   •   July 22, 2020   •   936

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is set to bring home on July 28 the third batch of the remains of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) who died in Saudi Arabia.

So far, the government has brought home a total of 137 OFWs who succumbed to coronavirus diseases (COVID-19) and other causes.

Based on the figures provided by DOLE overseas offices and the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh, the last batch includes a total of 57 OFW remains who all died of COVID-19: 30 bodies from Jeddah; 20 bodies from Riyadh; and seven from Al Khobar.

“We will accord our fallen modern-day heroes the same grand welcome and memorial ceremonies due them upon their arrival,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said. 

The bodies will be flown via chartered cargo flight of the Philippine Airlines.

Bello assured that the homecoming of the remains will follow strict health protocols similar to the two previous batches of repatriation where COVID-19 victims were brought directly to crematoriums upon arrival.

“Our government shares the grief of the bereaved families of our dear OFWs. But we continue to seek their understanding to strictly adhere to the protocols for their own good and that of our communities,” he concluded.

DOLE partners with PGH to manage OFW hospital

Robie de Guzman   •   January 17, 2022

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said it has tapped the Philippine General Hospital to help manage the clinical services of the country’s first hospital for overseas Filipino workers (OFW).

In a statement, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed between DOLE and the PGH last Friday at the nearly completed OFW Hospital in San Fernando, Pampanga,

Bello expressed optimism over the partnership, saying “the expertise of the government’s top medical institution will add quality to the service and prestige to the name of the facility meant to provide the health requirements of OFWs.”

“In serving the health needs of our modern-day heroes, we need the champion in saving lives. Thank you PGH for helping us,” Bello added.

Under the MOU, PGH will be helping the OFW Hospital in the training of clinical and administrative personnel, planning and acquisition of hospital equipment, and formulation of clinical and fiscal process flow.

It will also guide the hospital in the creation of electronic medical records and hospital information systems, and planning of infrastructure layout in relation to clinical services.

Aside from PGH, DOLE said the Philippine Amusement Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), Bloomberry Cultural Foundation Incorporated (BCFI), and the Pampanga Provincial Government also helped in constructing the 100-bed hospital building.

The construction of the OFW hospital is scheduled to be finished in March this year, it added.

DOLE suspends work in head office, NCR on January 14 & 17

Robie de Guzman   •   January 14, 2022

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) announced that work in its main office in Intramuros, Manila, and its regional office in the National Capital Region (NCR) have been suspended on January 14 (Friday) and January 17 (Monday).

In a statement, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the work suspension order was due to the surge of COVID-19 cases, particularly in NCR, and “the increasing number of cases in the department.”

Bello said that 128 DOLE officials and staff have been infected as of January 13. This accounts for about 21 percent of DOLE’s central office personnel of around 600.

“Services of the Department of Labor and Employment in the central office in Intramuros and its regional office in the National Capital Region will not be available to the public on Friday, January 14, and Monday, January 17,” the department said in an advisory.

In a memorandum issued on Thursday, January 13, Bello directed all heads of offices, services, and bureaus, including the NCR regional office to resume work on January 18.

Earlier in the week, Bello directed all DOLE offices and attached agencies in areas with a surging number of COVID cases to implement alternative work arrangements, including work from home, for their personnel.

“Skeletal [sic] workforce shall be limited to those performing or providing essential services,” Bello said in an administrative order issued on Tuesday.

The work arrangements took effect on Wednesday and will last until January 30, he added.

The flexible work arrangements, however, do not cover personnel in the offices of the Secretary, undersecretaries and assistant secretaries, and the office of the directors.

Bello urged all DOLE personnel to continue observing public health standards and other safety protocols in the workplace to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

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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