DOLE ‘ready to extend’ assistance to ABS-CBN workers affected by shutdown

Marje Pelayo   •   July 15, 2020   •   288

MANILA, Philippines –  The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Tuesday (July 14) said it is “ready to extend” assistance to all workers of ABS-CBN Corp. who will be displaced as a result of Congress’ denial of the media giant’s application for new franchise. 

“We are ready to extend the necessary assistance to all employees who may be displaced as a result of the congressional action,” Labor Undersecretary Ana Dione said in a statement.

The official emphasized that while the agency sympathizes with what happened, the network must ensure that all employees who are likely to be terminated, will receive their separation benefits as mandated by law.

“Should termination, reduction or displacement of workforce become unavoidable, the first thing that ABS-CBN should do is compensate the employees because it is legally bound to pay separation benefits to those who will be retrenched or terminated,” she said.

Dione said the agency is now in the process of determining the exact number of employees of the network who will be affected by the retrenchment. 

“If they truly care for their workers, then the network is morally bound to give them all pays and emoluments that the law provides,” the official said of ABS-CBN.

READ: ABS-CBN to stay off-air after House panel junks bid for new 25-year franchise

On July 10, the House Committee on Legislative Franchises denied ABS-CBN’s bid for a fresh 25-year franchise, ending its 34 years of broadcasting on free TV. 

The network claims that around 11.000 of its employees are likely to be laid off as a result of the decision.

DOLE: Workers to get double pay on Eid’l Adha

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 31, 2020

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Thursday (July 30) announced that workers will get double pay on Friday (July 31) after it was declared a regular holiday in commemoration of Eid’l Adha.

Based on Labor Advisory No. 25, Series of 2020 issued by DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III, employees who worked during the declared regular holiday shall be paid 200 percent of their regular salary for the first eight hours. Employees will receive an additional 30% of their hourly rate if they work overtime.

Meanwhile, employees who did not work on the said holiday shall be paid 100 percent of their salary.

For employees who worked on a regular holiday that also fell on their rest day shall be paid an additional 30 percent of their basic wage of 200 percent.

However, the Labor advisory also states that some companies may defer the payment of holiday pay until normal operations resumes, while establishments that have totally closed or ceased operations during the community quarantine period are exempted from the payment of the holiday pay. AAC

354 distressed OFWs from Saudi Arabia set to arrive in PHL – DOLE

Robie de Guzman   •   July 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Some 354 distressed overseas Filipino workers repatriated from Saudi Arabia are set to arrive in the country on Wednesday, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said.

In a statement, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the group of repatriated Filipinos is expected to land in Manila on Wednesday afternoon onboard a chartered flight.

In a report to Bello, Labor Attache Nasser Mustafa said majority of the passengers are distressed OFWs from Philippine Overseas Labor Office’s Bahay Kalinga in Riyadh, and from temporary shelters maintained by the POLOs in the Eastern Region of Saudi Arabia.

Also included in the flight are 12 workers from Jussur Emdad, 45 workers from Arkad Co., as well as 14 OFWs previously employed by Abdullah Aldossary, Azmeel Contracting Co., Rakan Trading, which are all based in the Eastern Region of Saudi Arabia.

These OFWs joined a number of OFWs who have worked for Freyssinet, Jussur Emdad, Samana Company and Rent Human Resources as well as walk-in OFWs whose exit visas were facilitated by the labor office in Riyadh, Bello added.

The labor chief said he has instructed the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to provide all necessary assistance to the returning Filipino workers.

The repatriation of the OFWs is in line with the department’s efforts to provide assistance to OFWs adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Unfortunately, some of our OFWs have been greatly impacted by the pandemic and we hope that our repatriation efforts would bring them comfort as they will soon join their families and loved ones,” Bello said.

DOLE also reported that so far, more than 111,400 returning OFWs have been transported to their respective provinces.

The last batch of OFWs to be sent home are 3,035 workers who took their rides in OWWA-arranged buses and other means of transportation on Monday.  

Drilon on Duterte tirade: I was defending freedom of the press, not the Lopezes

Robie de Guzman   •   July 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon asserted that he was defending the freedom of the press and not the Lopezes after President Rodrigo Duterte accused him of defending the owners of the closed down media network ABS-CBN.

“I was defending freedom of the press, not the Lopezes. The closure of the ABS-CBN sent a chilling effect,” Drilon said in a statement issued shortly after Duterte’s fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the Batasang Pambansa on July 27.

In the first five minutes of his SONA, Duterte lambasted Drilon over his “arrogant” statements on oligarchs and accused the senator of defending the Lopezes as he slammed “those who take advantage of a preoccupied government” amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“One of them is Senator Frank Drilon. In an interview, he arrogantly mentioned, among others, that oligarchs need not be rich. Then he linked the anti-dynasty system with oligarchy and the topic was my daughter and son,” he said.

“This happened after the Committee on Franchise voted 70-11 to deny the grant of a franchise to ABS-CBN. Obviously, he was defending the Lopezes that they are not oligarchs,” he added.

In a forum last July 15, Drilon called on the president to push for the passage of a law prohibiting political dynasties in order to dismantle oligarchy in the country. He also said in the same forum that being rich does not equate to being an oligarch.

Drilon made the remark after Duterte said in a speech during his visit to Jolo on July 14 that he had dismantled oligarchy in the country without declaring martial law.

“As I said before, for democracy to thrive we need free press and to allow journalists to exercise complete freedom to do their mandate of reporting facts without fear,” Drilon said.

The lawmaker said he was also defending the 11,000 ABS-CBN employees who would lose jobs amid the pandemic.

“In the face of a pandemic, we need more access to information,” he said.

“I aired my support for the renewal of franchise of ABS-CBN because undeniably the network complements other stations in providing timely and accurate reportage even in the farthest locality unreachable to others, even to the government,” he added.

In a separate interview with UNTV on Tuesday, Drilon also said he owed nothing to the Lopezes.

“‘Yung mga Lopezes po, wala po akong utang na loob sa kanila. Kung ako po ay tumayo para sa ABS-CBN, yan po ay dahilan sa aking paningin na ang kalayaan ng pamamahayag o freedom of the press, malaking bagay po at importante sa ating demokrasya,” he reiterated.

He also denied Duterte’s allegation about his involvement when his former law firm drafted water concession agreements that allegedly contained provisions that are onerous and disadvantageous to the government.

“Hindi ko nga nakita kung ano ‘yung itsura nung agreement na ‘yun. Wala po akong kinalaman diyan… Wala po ako diyan. Hindi ko po alam. Hindi ko nakikita ‘yang kontratang ‘yan hanggang ngayon,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

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