Bodies of dead OFWs from Saudi Arabia to be flown home starting Friday – DOLE

Robie de Guzman   •   July 8, 2020   •   434

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvester Bello III on Wednesday said that the remains of overseas Filipino workers who died in Saudi Arabia will be brought home in batches starting Friday.

Bello said the first batch will be comprised of 44 bodies of deceased OFWs – 19 of whom succumbed to novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while the others died of various causes.

The remains will arrive at the Villamor Airbase via a chartered flight on July 10.

Bello said those who died from COVID-19 will be immediately brought to a crematorium for cremation. Their ashes will then be turned over to their families.

For OFWs who died of natural causes, the labor chief said that their remains may be claimed by their relatives or sent to their respective provinces.

The second batch of OFW remains will arrive on Sunday. A total of 274 remains of OFWs will be flown home from Saudi Arabia.

Bello said the bodies will be repatriated in batches because they cannot bring them home all at once due to stringent protocols and requirements.

“Unahin muna natin yung nakumpleto ang papeles kasi ang hirap ng mga papeles dito. Meron from the Ministry of Labor, meron Ministry of Foreign Affairs nila, ospital kung saan galing yung labi. Ang pinakamahirap yung consent ng employer ang ating mga kababayan,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) assured it will extend aid to the families of deceased workers.

OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said the families of both active and inactive members of the agency will receive financial assistance.

“Bereavement financial assistance at a minimum for inactive OWWA members and then there is an additional death and burial benefit for the active OWWA member in addition to other related benefits like livelihood. But there will be a minimun financial basic assistance for all,” Cacdac said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Mon Jocson/Jaycel Valera)

DOLE warns employing minors as ‘kasambahay’ is illegal

Marje Pelayo   •   December 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has reminded households that it is unlawful to employ minors as domestic workers.

In a news release Thursday (December 3), Director Karina Perida-Trayvilla of DOLE’s Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns (BWSC) said Republic Act No. 10361 or the Kasambahay Law strictly prohibits employing minors or those who are below 15 years old, as domestic household workers.

This, she said, is considered a clear form of child labor and exploitation.

The announcement is in line with the government’s campaign to eliminate the worst forms of child labor.

According to the October 2019 survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), there are 1,400,132 domestic household workers in the country. This number includes 4% or more than 40,000 child domestic workers aged 15 to 18, and close to 1% or about 5,000 who are below 15 years old.

Employers who are proven guilty of employing minors as kasambahay can be penalized with a fine ranging from P10,000 to P40,000. 

“These penalties are on top of the civil and criminal charges that can be filed against the employers under the R.A. 9231 or the act on the elimination of the worst forms of child labor,” Trayvilla noted.

Construction of PH’s first ever OFW hospital begins in Pampanga

Marje Pelayo   •   November 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — A health facility dedicated to the country’s modern-day heroes — the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs)— is set to rise in Pampanga. 

The 100-bed capacity hospital is set to rise on a two-hectare land donated by the provincial government of Pampanga specifically in the municipality of San Fernando.

The construction of the said health facility has been made possible with the P500 million donation of Bloomberry Cultural Foundation, Inc. (BCFI), an entity established by the operator of Solaire Resort and Casino.

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) said that the soon-to-rise OFW hospital will immensely help the country’s modern-day heroes who endure homesickness just to provide for their families and keep the economy afloat.

“We will finally have this very first, modern and state-of-the-art health facility intended solely for the care and medical needs of our OFWs,” said PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Andrea Domingo who graced the kick-off event on Thursday (November 26) along with other key government officials. 

BCFI President Donato Almeda said that many Filipinos rely on the OFW’s contribution to the national economy through their remittances. 

However, very little assistance or recognition is given to them when they finally return home to retire.

Secretary of Labor and Employment Silvestre Bello III, who also graced the event, expressed his gratitude to PAGCOR, BCFI and the provincial government of Pampanga for helping promote the welfare of overseas workers through their commitment to build the health facility. MNP / Beth Pilares

Deployment cap on healthcare workers covers new applicants only — DOLE

Marje Pelayo   •   November 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Health workers who wish to work abroad may now begin processing their documents after the lifting of the deployment ban that was imposed early this year due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said about 90% to 95% of health workers going abroad are nurses while the remaining percentage normally are doctors, dieticians, or some anaesthesiologists. 

But the official noted that only 5,000 health care workers will be allowed to leave each year. 

The said number only covers first new applicants and is apart from those under the Balik-Manggagawa program or those who have existing contracts abroad but are on vacation in the Philippines.

Bello explained that there is a chance that the deployment cap may increase depending on the recommendation from the Department of Health (DOH) in consideration to the health care system in the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

He noted that before the pandemic started, about 12,000 to 16,000 health workers left the country each year for better employment abroad.

Ayaw lang natin na mangyari na walang limit ang dami ng lalabas. Pagdating ng panahon lumala itong pandemya at wala tayong mga nurses tayo naman ang kawawa (We cannot just allow that there is no limit in the number of departures. In case the pandemic situation in the country worsens and we don’t have enough nurses, we would suffer),” Bello said.

Meanwhile, Bello confirmed that DOLE is now pushing for a salary increase for nurses in the private sector to make it equal to that of nurses in the government sector which is at P30,000 for an entry level.

Currently, the highest salary that a nurse in the private firm receives is about P18,000 a month that’s why Bello urges private hospitals to also take into consideration the welfare of their respective health workers.

May mga nurses pa na sa halip na sila ang sinuswelduhan sila pa ang nagbabayad (There are nurses who, instead of receiving a salary, are the ones shelling out money) under the guise of training fee,” he said.

The official noted that there is now a bill filed in Congress that seeks a salary increase for nurses in the private sector. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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