Bello says no to use of OFW funds to aid displaced migrant workers
Robie de Guzman • July 1, 2020 • 402
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.
The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) is preparing its guidelines for the limited face-to-face classes for health-related courses.
According to CHED Chairman Prospero De Vera III, the said courses which might possibly have limited face-to-face classes are medical courses, Physical Therapy, Nursing, and courses with actual applications needed.
“Baka iyon muna kasi hindi ka magiging magaling na doktor o nurse kung hindi ka talaga pupunta sa ospital (That would be it, for now. You won’t be a good doctor or nurse if you don’t go to hospitals),” he said.
De Vera also said schools might implement the limited face-to-face classes by the second semester of the first quarter of 2021 once they passed the inspection. Meanwhile, graduating students with laboratory subjects, and Hotel and Restaurant Management courses will be opened.
“And if indeed the retrofitting is good then we have more confidence that when the second semester comes up in January maybe we can start opening schools slowly,” De Vera added.
The Department of Education (DepEd), on the other hand, said it will leave the decision to President Rodrigo Duterte if face-to-face classes will be allowed for basic education or K to 12 classes. -AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)
The Baguio City government has suspended the operation of the night market after apparent lapses in crowd control.
Mayor Benjamin Magalong already ordered a post-night market assessment to evaluate the incident. The night market was reopened on Tuesday (December 1) as part of the city’s plan to reopen the economy and restore the livelihood of the displaced vendors affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Magalong, however, stressed that reopening businesses should not mean sacrificing the health and safety of the people.
“We must strike a balance between reopening the economy and safeguarding the health and safety of the people. This is our new normal direction,” he said.
City Treasurer Alex Cabarrubias and Market superintendent Fernando Ragma Jr. are set to identify weak points and vulnerabilities in the night market area and discuss solutions. AAC
MANILA, Philippines – Hinimok ni Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año ang mga lokal na pamahalaan na maglabas ng ordinansa para payagan ang mga menor de edad sa loob ng mga mall sa general community quarantine (GCQ) areas.
Ginawa ni Año ang pahayag kasunod ng rekomendasyon na payagan nang lumabas ang mga menor de edad sa gitna ng novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Una nang sinabi ng DILG chief na maaaring pumasok sa loob ng mga mall sa GCQ areas ang mga menor de edad na 15 anyos pababa basta’t kasama ang kanilang mga magulang.
Ngunit kailangan aniya itong pagtibayan ng ordinansa, lalo na ng bawat lungsod sa Metro Manila.
“Ito po ay pagtitibayin sa mga ordinansa ng ating mga NCR (National Capital Regions) mayors sa lugar po ng GCQ (General Community Quarantine)” ang wika ni Año.
Paglilinaw naman ni Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez, limitado lamang ang aktibidad na maaaring gawin ng mga menor de edad sa loob ng mall gaya ng pagbili ng pagkain at iba pang mahahalagang bagay.
Ayon kay Lopez, ito ay bahagi ng mga hakbang ng pamahalaan upang muling pasiglahin ang ekonomiya na nalugmok sa gitna ng pandemya.
Samantala, sinabi naman ng Philippine National Police (PNP) na hihintayin nila ang ilalabas na ordinansa ng mga lokal na pamahalaan bago nila payagan ang mga menor de edad na makapasok sa loob ng mga mall.
“Kailangan pagtibayin yan ng isang ordinansa. Sa meeting namin ng JTF COVID Shield, pinaghandaan po namin itong recommendation ng mayors sa Metro Manila at kaugnayan din natin si NCRPO director para nga sa pagpapatupad nitong nirecommend nila na tinanggap naman ng IATF at inannounce na nga kagabi,” ang wika ni Lieutenant General Cesar Hawthorne Binag, ang commander ng Joint Task Force COVID Shield.
Hinimok rin ng pulisya ang mga magulang na kung maaari ay huwag nang dalhin sa mall ang mga bata hangga’t nananatili ang banta ng COVID-19.
“Nakikiusap kami na hangga’t kaya dahil wala pa po tayong vaccination e umiwas na lang po muna sana. This is to protect and prevent the disease from spreading further. Siguro kung medyo naturukan na tayo ng vaccine ay that’s the time na pwede na lumabas,” ang pahayag ni National Capital Region Police Office director Brigadier General Vicente Danao Jr.
Sinabi rin ni PNP chief General Debold Sinas na pauuwiin nila ang mga batang magtutungo sa mall habang wala pang inilalabas na ordinansa.
“Hindi namin hulihin at alamin muna ng pulis ang dahilan kung bakit nasa mall na sila at pauwiin natin sila,” ang wika ni Sinas. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Lea Ylagan)
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