DOLE deployment ban to Saudi Arabia leaves hundreds of OFWs stranded at NAIA

Marje Pelayo   •   May 28, 2021   •   969

MANILA, Philippines — Hundreds of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) bound for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) were not allowed to leave on Friday (May 28) after the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) issued a temporary deployment ban to the Kingdom.

Based on the memorandum issued by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), there were reports that several OFWs were being obliged by their recruiters or employers to shoulder all COVID-related expenses including the insurance premium imposed upon entry to Saudi Arabia.

To date, the department has yet to receive any definite guidelines from the KSA if OFWs are exempted from their policy regarding the ban on unvaccinated foreign travelers or those who have been vaccinated with a brand that is not allowed by the Saudi government.

Based on reports from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Riyadh, OFWs are being charged up to P1,000 dollars before departure from Manila.

“Wala naman kaming na-receive sa POLO na nagreklamo na worker but as I have heard from Manila, sa Manila ko narinig na may mga nagrereklamo dyan,” said Labor Attache Fidel Macauyag.

“That prompted our secretary and on top of that walang clear guidelines ang ating mga advisories dito sa Saudi kung sino ba talaga ang magbabayad,” he added.

As a result of the temporary ban, about 500 OFWs were left stranded as they weren’t allowed to fly despite their existing contracts.

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) was also surprised by the announcement but proceeded even with an empty flight because there are Filipinos waiting for their flight to the Philippines in Riyadh.

Those who were affected have the option to rebook their tickets to another date once the ban is lifted.

POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia, for his part, promised to address the problem while waiting for clear guidelines from the Saudi government.

“Konting pasensya at konting sakripisyo kasi po ang ginagawa natin ay para sa kapakanan ng nakararami,” Olalia noted.

“Lahat po tayo ay makikinabang dito lalong lalo na ang mga OFWs na pinagbabayad ng institutional quarantine, pinagbabayad ng insurance coverage, pinagbabayad ng COVID-19 test at hindi po kinikilala ang mga vaccine na vaccinated na yung mga OFWs natin,” he added.

Olalia assured that the Overseas Worker Welfare Administration (OWWA) will shoulder the accommodation expenses of the stranded OFWs as well as their fare returning to their respective hometowns as a result of the ban. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Labor group calls on gov’t to make vaccination accessible to workers

Marje Pelayo   •   September 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — A labor group is asking the government to make vaccination accessible to workers.

Associated Labor Union-trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) said about 200,000 to 300,000 workers still remain unvaccinated in the National Capital Region (NCR) Plus Bubble.

“Nauuso ngayon iyong walk-in vaccine hopping. Ito yung mga manggagawang desperado na nagtatrabaho pero dahil kulang yung vaccines doon sa mga probinsya nila o sa kanilang siyudad kung saan sila nakatira, eh desperado silang naghahanap ng mga walk-in sa NCR o sa karatig na probinsya,” ALU-TUCP spokesperson Alan Tanjusay said.

The group said that those in the provinces suffer the long wait for vaccines unlike residents in Metro Manila.

They added that even if the local government units (LGUs) in the said region have opened their vaccinations to non-residents, non-NCR residents are still not among their priority.

Thus, the group is calling on the government to bring the vaccinators to their workplaces especially now that most industries require workers to be fully vaccinated.

“Dapat siguro bakit hindi pumunta yung mga vaccinator sa mga workplaces? Imbes na mga manggagawa ang maghanap-hanap kung saan, dapat lahat ng businesses o business establishment sa Metro Manila ay puntahan ng mga vaccinators,” Tanjusay said.

Meanwhile, the League of Provinces of the Philippines (LPP) is requesting for additional supply of COVID -19 vaccines and the construction of additional storage facilities.

Marinduque governor and LPP president, Presbitero Velasco said, “Tingin ko yung government kung may pondo pa, they should provide ultra low freezers para pati naman yung malalayong LGUs at yung mga lower rank LGUs ay mabigyan naman ng magagandan bakuna.”

For its part, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has begun vaccination programs for construction and factory workers after the national government provided them with 452,000 doses of vaccines.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III stressed that workers must be vaccinated against COVID-19 to avoid further crippling the economy.

“Kasi kung hindi mo bakunahan yung mga workers natin, mapipilay yung ating mga negosyo. Ngayon pag napilay yung negosyo, pilay yung ating ekonomiya,” Bello said.

In the coming week, DOLE has scheduled a roll out of vaccination in certain provinces with a specific number of COVID vaccines doses:

Malolos, Bulacan – 1,000 (Sept. 23, 2021)
Bataan – 1,000 (Sept. 24, 2021)
Dumaguete – 1,000 (Sept. 24, 2021)
Cebu – 5,000 (Sept 24, 2021)

MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

DOLE confident of reaching target of 1M jobs by year-end

Marje Pelayo   •   September 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in compliance with the National Employment Recovery Strategy (NERS) is aiming at reaching its goal of generating one million jobs by the end of the year.

NERS 2021-2022 is an employment recovery plan addressing the changes in the labor market brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Layunin po ng programa na ito na makapag-hire o makapag-recruit po tayo ng mga manggagawa para ma-fill up ‘yung ating mga vacancies sa construction sector at saka sa manufacturing sector,” said DOLE Assistant Secretary Dominique Tutay.

The official said they are also looking into job opportunities in information technology and business process outsourcing sectors.

Citing the latest quarterly labor force survey from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Tutay said the prevailing  COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected the country’s labor force.

However, the DOLE together with other concerned agencies has laid plans to be able to achieve its target under NERS.

“Ang iba pong mga hakbang na ginagawa natin ngayon is ongoing po ang ating vaccination rollout para doon sa mga workers ng construction sector at saka manufacturing sector,” ASec Tutay said.

“Nagkaroon din tayo ng pagpupulong sa SSS at sa Pag-IBIG dahil iyon pong mga job seekers na rine-recruit po ng ating mga kumpanya ay nahihirapan po sila sa pre-employment documentary requirements,” she added.

DOLE assures working closely with NERS Task Force and various government agencies to ensure improvements in the country’s labor market amid the pandemic.

COVID-19 vaccination sa 1 milyong manggagawa para sa economic recovery, sinimulan na ng DOLE

Robie de Guzman   •   September 8, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Sinimulan na ng Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) ang pagbabakuna sa isang milyong manggagawa bilang bahagi ng economic recovery plan ng bansa.

Ayon sa DOLE, kabilang sa mga unang batch ng mga mababakunahan ang mga manggagawa sa construction at manufacturing industries.

Nasa 1,000 trabahador ang target na mabakunahan kada araw.

Ayon kay DOLE Assistant Secretary Dominique Tutay, uunahing bakunahan ang mga nasa construction at manufacturing sectors dahil kabilang ito sa mga industriyang pinagmumulan ng malaking pwersa para maitaguyod ang ekonomiya ng bansa.

Layunin din nito na tulungang makabawi ang mga negosyatente at mga empleyadong nais nang makabalik sa regular na oras ng trabaho.

“Ito po ay additional jabs targeted para po madagdagan yung employment ng ating bansa sa pamamagitan ng iba’t ibang sector, construction, manufacturing… Sila po ang dalawa sa sektor kung saan marami pong employment na nagegenerate ang ating ekonomiya,” ang pahayag ni Tutay.

Hindi sapilitan ang pagbabakuna ngunit ayon sa Philippine Constructors Association, mahalagang mabakunahan ang mga manggagawa lalo’t may ilang kumpanyang nagpapatupad ng bubble sa kanilang mga trabahador upang maiwasan ang paglabas-masok ng mga maaaring maging carrier ng COVID-19.

“We are in a bubble, naka lockdown yung mga construction workers namin, nasa barracks sila. Then they need to go from time to time, may necessities sila. Sa Project site may test kaming ginagawa, nakikita namin yung mga bagong pasok sa project sites may nagpopositive. So this is way of helping our workers be protected,” ani Wil Decena, ang pinuno ng Philippine Constructors Association.

Mahigit sa 452,000 doses ng Sinovac vaccines ang inisyal na ibinigay ng National Task Force against COVID-19 para mabakunahanan ang mga mangagawa.

Bukod sa Metro Manila, inaasikaso na rin ng DOLE ang pagkakaroon ng vaccination program sa iba’t-ibang kumpanya sa Central Luzon at Calabarzon Region upang makumpleto ang isang milyong target ng vaccination sa mga manggagawa bago pa matapos ang 2021. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent JP Nuñez)

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