30,000 OFW children in college to benefit from P1-B education subsidy

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 28, 2020   •   252

More than 30,000 college students who are dependents of repatriated, displaced, and deceased overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) will benefit from the government’s P1 billion education subsidy, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III signed a memorandum of agreement to launch “Tabang OFW”. The program aims to provide a one-time financial assistance of P30,000 to one college-level dependent of a repatriated, displaced, or deceased OFW.

Bello said the program is just one of the government’s ways of reciprocating the sacrifices of overseas Filipinos.

“We hope this will go a long way in helping our OFWs and their children in these most challenging times. By doing this, we also hope we can partly repay our modern-day heroes,” he said.

Under the agreement the Labor Department shall issue orders, circulars or guidelines that will spell out the effective and efficient implementation of the program while the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) will release the funds amounting to P1 billion to DOLE for its implementation.

The Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) will assist DOLE on the promotion and other information dissemination activities of the program. AAC

Pamamahagi ng libreng bisikleta sa mga nawalan ng trabaho, sisimulan sa Oct. 26 – DOLE

Robie de Guzman   •   October 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Sisimulan na sa Lunes, Oktubre 26, ang pamamahagi ng libreng bisikleta sa mga nawalan ng trabaho dahil sa COVID-19 pandemic, ayon sa Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Ayon kay Atty Karina Perida-Trayvilla, direktor ng DOLE – Bureau of Workers and Special Concerns, layunin ng proyekto na tulungan ang mga Pilipinong magkaroon ng trabaho sa gitna na rin ng mataas na demand para sa delivery ng food at non-food items.

“Starting Monday (October 26) to Wednesday, October 28, we will be awarding, it will be held at the DOLE office,” ani Trayvilla.

“We will be giving a total of 900 free bikes for the initial implementation of this project,” dagdag pa niya.

Ang mga bisikleta ay ibibigay lamang sa mga lubhang naapektuhan ng krisis.

Sa mga nais makakuha ng bisikleta, maaari silang pumunta sa pinakamalapit na DOLE field office of sa public employment service office para sa gagawing profiling.

Ang mga magku-qualify sa proyekto ay maaaring sumailalim sa social preparation training upang maturuan ng traffic regulations at iba pang panuntunan upang maging deliver service riders.

Sasailalim rin sila sa financial literacy at productivity training katuwang ang regional tripartite wages and productivity board.

Ibabahagi rin sa kanila ang occupational safety at health standards ng isa pang ahensiya na nasa ilalim ng DOLE.

Ayon sa DOLE, isasagawa rin ang ganitong proyekto sa iba pang regional offices.

PRC’s decision to stop swab testing affects returning OFWs

Marje Pelayo   •   October 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III admits that the decision of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) to stop conducting swab tests due to PhilHealth’s unsettled bills with them have greatly affected the returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

PhilHealth’s outstanding bill with PRC has already amounted to more than P930-million.

Bello said around 4,000 overseas Filipino workers have been stranded in the quarantine hotels they are currently billeted. And the longer they stay in these hotels, the greater the burden on the government that is shouldering the expenses in these hotels.

In the past, the DOLE had been able to send home up to 3,000 OFWs daily after undergoing swab tests and quarantine. To date, it can only send home around 300 OFWs every day.

“They are staying longer. While before they can stay for 3 to four days, now they already stay beyond one week and that’s our problem. There are expenses in taking care of our OFWs. So the sooner the issue of payment is resolved, the better for the OFWs and the better for the finances of our government,” Bello said.

The DOLE chief is hoping that the PhilHealth-PRC issue will be resolved as around 100,000 more OFWs are due to be repatriated before the year ends.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is asking the returning OFWs for their cooperation and patience for the delay of the issuance of result of their swab tests.

PCG Spokesperson Commodore Armando Balilo said they have returned to manually encoding the information of these returning OFWs.

“So pagdating po sa airport, katulad ng dati, imbis na CIF po na pinifill-upan bago po dumating dito na sa website ng red cross, e ngayon po iniinterview namin isa-isa yung mga OFW at kinukunan ng background. At pagkatapos po nun, kinukunan ng swab test, maging yun pong dati na mga specimen po ay nilalagyan na rin ng manual na pangalan at kung kelan na swab di katulad ng dati na bar code,” said Balilo.

This, Balilo said, is why it is taking the process up to four to five days rather than finishing it in just one day following PRC’s decision.

Despite this, Balilo said there are now 12 hospitals that will accept and process the RT-PCR tests of OFWs.

“Magiging capacity po sa isang araw po kaya po ng mga 4,000 hanggang 4,500 po na iti-test,” he said.

Balilo added that the PCG will augment its personnel to lessen the delay due to the manual encoding.

The official also said they are finding ways to return to automation or electronic process encoding of individual information.

“On our part, nagpadala na po kami ng mga tauhan ng mga IT personnel para po magaya natin kung ano man ang sistema na pina-iiral ng Red Cross at sa loob po ng lalong madaling panahon ay maresolba natin itong delay,” Balilo said.

No exemptions, deferment: DOLE tells firms to give workers 13th-month pay

Robie de Guzman   •   October 15, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Thursday said it will neither defer nor give exemptions to any company from releasing the 13th month pay for their workers even amid the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We will not postpone, we will not defer and we will not give an exemption to the payment of the 13th month pay,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said during a Laging Handa public briefing.

“The law says, pay the workers their 13th month pay on or before December 24. ‘Yan po ang ipatutupad ng Department of Labor,” he added.

Bello said a department order to companies will be released on Friday.

The Labor chief earlier said they are considering a proposal to help micro and small enterprises that were badly hit by the pandemic to give their workers 13th month pay through government subsidy.

Bello said they are seeking approval from the Department of Finance (DOF) for the proposed subsidy or loan program for small firms.

“Nag-request kami kay (Finance) Sec. (Carlos) Dominguez na kung maaari bigyan ng subsidy yung mga employers that are categorized as micro and small enterprises para mabigyan sila ng subsidy o kaya mabigyan sila ng opportunity to make loans sa ating banks, lahat ng mga banks,” he said.

Dominguez, for his part, said his agency has yet to determine the budget for the said proposal.

“I have asked Sec. Bello for the details of his proposal so we can determine if we have the budget cover for it,” the finance chief said in a message to reporters. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Mirasol Abogadil)

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