Bello confident new Security of Tenure bill will get Congress’ nod

Robie de Guzman   •   August 16, 2019   •   812

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III has expressed confidence that the new version of the proposed Security of Tenure Bill will get the nod of the 18th Congress and eventually signed into law this year.

Bello said DOLE technical working group is set to meet with representatives from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and other concerned agencies for inputs in the executive department’s version for submission to Congress.

“We will first meet with the concerned agencies to hear out their concerns and recommendations and hopefully, by the end of the month we can submit our improved version to Congress,” the labor chief said in a statement on Thursday.

Bello earlier said the new version of the measure is a clearer and solid version of the one that was vetoed by President Rodrigo Duterte last July.

It also has more detailed demarcation of the jobs allowed to be outsourced so that the coverage of the bill seen to stop contractualization in the country will be clearly defined.

READ: Intensified Security of Tenure Bill will end “endo” in retail businesses – Bello

At the same time, Bello said he is pushing for broader authority to close down or suspend the operation of erring establishments for non-compliance and violation of labor standards, and deprivation of the rights of workers.

The measures, according to the DOLE chief, were necessary to ensure strict compliance of general labor standards by the more than 900,000 business establishments in the country.

“In this new version of the proposed bill, a provision states that the labor department can release order for the closure or suspension of an establishment should they be proven to continue violating labor standards,” Bello said.

He earlier said the new version of the bill will be presented to President Rodrigo Duterte before August ends.

Bello, however, assured the powers given to DOLE will not be abused because only the labor chief can sign an order to close or suspend erring enterprises.

“Regional Directors can only recommend such closure or suspension of an establishment upon presenting evidence and only the labor secretary can sign the order. We will not tolerate any abuse of authority in the department,” Bello said.

The proposed bill is expected to be discussed in the upcoming meetings of the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC). 

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

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 28, 2020

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

PH seeks rescue assistance from China, S. Korea, Taiwan to locate missing seafarers from sunken Gulf Livestock 1

Marje Pelayo   •   September 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said it has sought the assistance of national Coast Guards from China, South Korea and Taiwan to help locate the Filipino crew men of the livestock cargo vessel that sank off south-western Japan.

 In a meeting on Thursday (September 25), Bello assured the kin of missing seafarers that the government is doing its best to find the answers as to what happened to their loved ones. 

“I know you’re in a very difficult situation, but there’s hope,” Bello told wives, siblings and parents of the missing seafarers.

Prior to this, the Japanese Coast guard, which found three Filipino mariners—two survivors and one fatality—announced that it has stopped its special operations for the remaining crew —36 Filipinos, two Australians and two New Zealanders–of the ill-fated MV Gulf Livestock 1.

“So don’t give up on your loved ones because there’s really hope. Three foreign governments are helping us find them,” Bello, who requested the assistance abroad, said

Huang Xilian, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of China, said China has already commenced rescue operations.

The Chinese government announced, however, that they have not found any sign of the missing seafarers during their rescue operations on September 19 and 20. 

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s Ambassador Peiyung Hsu told Belo his request was immediately conveyed to the Taiwan Coast Guard (TCG).

“Rest assured that your good office will be kept posted on any findings or developments of the said operations,” he said.

Meanwhile, South Korean Ambassador Han Dong-Man in response to Bello’s request said he has already forwarded the endorsement to their Ministry of Foreign Affairs for proper action.

“I am hoping that our government’s participation in any search and rescue operation that may be conducted will shed light on the status of the missing crew,” the official added.

Given these developments, families of the missing mariners thanked Bello for giving them hope. Each family of the victims present during the meeting was given financial assistance by DOLE through the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

DOLE survey shows workers want more secure bike lanes

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 15, 2020

Filipino workers want more secure bike lanes and parking, based on the recent survey of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

“Majority of the workers are in favor of having more bike lanes on paved roads, bike paths, and more secured bike parking,” the Labor Department said in a statement.

Respondents also said feeling unsafe is what prevents them from using the bike as transportation. They do not feel safe traveling due to poor road conditions as well as lack of secured bike parking areas.

DOLE conducted the survey in line with their Bike-to-Work Project, which aims to assist workers in this time of pandemic by providing bicycles as a transport option or a livelihood opportunity.

The survey yielded a total of 1,119 respondents, with the majority of them coming from the National Capital Region (NCR).

“The preliminary results of the research, which was carried out at the onset of the relaxing of community quarantine in Metro Manila and other parts of the country, were presented to DOLE Senior officials to discuss possible projects and policy recommendations,” DOLE said. -AAC

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