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

Marje Pelayo   •   November 27, 2020   •   322

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

OFWs exempted from travel ban on countries with new COVID-19 strain cases

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in countries with a travel ban from the government are exempted and will be allowed to enter the Philippines, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

In a press conference on Tuesday (December 29), Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said President Rodrigo Duterte wants OFWs to be able to return to their families.

Bello said returning OFWs would need to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Some 60,000 to 100,000 OFWs are expected to return in the next two weeks, he added.

Duterte, on Monday (December 28), approved the imposition of travel ban on countries with confirmed reports of the new strain of COVID-19. The travel ban will take effect on December 30 at 12:01 a.m. until January 15. AAC

DOLE wants OFWs, minimum wage earners included among priorities for COVID-19 vaccine

Marje Pelayo   •   December 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) wants overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and minimum wage workers to be among the first to receive the vaccine for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) once it becomes available.

In an interview with UNTV, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said minimum wage earners comprise about 60% to 70% of the country’s overall workforce thus, they also should be prioritized in the administration of COVID-19 vaccines.

Kailangan tiyakin natin ang kaligtasan ng ating mga minimum wage workers para matiyak natin din yung ating negosyo at ang ating economic recovery (We need to ensure the safety of our minimum wage workers so we can guarantee the success of our businesses and economic recovery),” Bello said.

He also reiterated that overseas Filipino workers play an important role in the country’s economy in the form of remittances, hence they should be listed at least among the top six in the order of priority.

Doon naman sa mga Overseas Filipino Workers, tinagurian silang bagong bayani, modern day heroes so they should be treated as modern days heroes (Overseas Filipino workers are considered modern-day heroes so they should be treated as that),” the Secretary said.

ALU-TUCP Spokesperson Alan Tanjusay supports the idea saying workers are exposed to threats of COVID-19 and the possibility of transmission is high.

He also suggested the possibility of investors leaving the country and transferring to other countries that are already administering the vaccine.

May posibilidad na magsilipat ang mga investors doon sa mga bansang nabakunahan na dahil regular na ang mobility nila, ang pagbyahe ng mga manggagawa (There is a possibility that investors would go to countries where vaccines are available because mobility and travel of workers there are back to normal),” Tanjusay argued.

DOLE said the expenses for the vaccination may be shouldered by either the government or the employers.

The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) said big companies could probably afford to shoulder the expenses.

The only concern, he said, are the small and medium companies that comprise about 90% of businesses in the country.

Kahit anong gawin natin hindi kayang magpabakuna noon. Iyon nga lang 13th month pay alam mo naman nagkahirapan tayo. Iyon pa kaya sa bakuna na iyan (Whatever we do they wouldn’t be able to afford the vaccine. They can hardly provide for their workers’ 13th month pay, how much more for the vaccine),” said ECOP president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr.

The employers’ group said, it should be the government that will shoulder the expenses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

ECOP said it is still up to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) as to who they want to prioritize for the vaccination and not all workers are obliged to take it. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Bello wants P6,000 minimum wage for all ‘kasambahays’ nationwide

Marje Pelayo   •   December 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Thursday (December 17) hinted at a proposal to increase the minimum wage of household service workers or “kasambahays” nationwide to P6,000 a month.

Domestic workers in Metro Manila and first class municipalities of Region 7 are currently earning P5,000 monthly.

However, those in other areas, such as in the municipalities of Region 11, receive as low as P2,000 a month which, according to the Secretary, is “very meager”.

Masyadong mababa iyon. Hindi man makabili ng cellphone (That is too low. You cannot even buy a cellphone with it),” he said.

Bello expressed support for a standard minimum wage for household workers across the regions.

Ang gusto ko sana ay pare-pareho. Nandyan ka sa Isabela o nandoon ka sa Mindanao, dapat iyong sweldo ng ating mga household service workers ay pare-pareho. Either ilagay natin at P6,000, reasonable na iyon (What I want is equal rate whether the worker is in Isabela or in Mindanao. The salary of household service workers should be standard. Either we set it at P6,000, that’s already reasonable),” he said. 

Based on the 2019 data of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the country has 1.4 million household workers. 

Bello explained it is the National Wage and Productivity Board (NWPB) that determines the salary rate of domestic workers for each region.

“Ako sa tingin ko, reasonable ang P6,000 na iyon. Kung hindi mo kayang magbigay ng P6,000 wag kang kumuha ng katulong ( I think P6,000 is already reasonable. If you can’t afford to pay P6,000, then don’t hire a house helper),” the Labor Secretary said.

Ikaw na maglinis sa bahay mo. Ikaw na maglinis sa kotse mo. Ikaw na magligo sa mga pusa ninyo, mga aso ninyo. Kung hindi mo ma-afford iyan, ikaw na mismo ang magtrabaho (You clean your own house. You wash your own car. Bathe your pet cat, or dog yourself. If you can’t afford to pay, then do the work yourself),” he added.

Apart from wage increase, Bello said household workers should also be entitled to subsidized employee benefits such as PhilHealth, SSS and Pag-Ibig Fund. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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