DOLE reports dip in COVID-19 cases among OFWs

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 7, 2020   •   528

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infection among overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) has dropped, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Tuesday (October 6).

The Labor Department reported there are no new COVID-19 cases recored among OFWs in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Taiwan, and Japan.

New cases were reported in Israel and Qatar but the numbers are lower compared to the tally reported on September 30.

In Germany, the 80 OFWs who were COVID-19 positive were already declared recovered.  Likewise, in Belgium, the seven monitored cases were also confirmed to have recovered.

The good news continues in Spain where 85 recoveries were reported followed by France with eight more.

“The Philippine Overseas Labor Offices’ (POLO) monitoring of OFWs continues round the clock as part of the government’s heightened welfare and assistance program for migrant Filipino workers during the pandemic,” DOLE said.

Meanwhile, DOLE also reported that a new batch of Filipinos, 26 adults and 10 infants, are set for repatriation after qualifying for the Voluntary Repatriation Program of Israel. AAC

UK declines PH offer to deploy more Filipino nurses in exchange for vaccines

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 25, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The United Kingdom (UK) government has declined the offer of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to deploy more nurses to the UK in exchange for vaccines.

UK Ambassador to the Philippines Daniel Pruce said the recruitment of nurses and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines are two separate issues.

“We’ve got no plans to link vaccines with those conversations around the recruitment of nurses. You know those two strands of conversation I think continue but as I’ve said again we have no plans to link those two issues,” he said during a virtual conference.

DOLE Silvestre Bello III proposed forming an agreement with the UK to lift the deployment cap of healthcare workers, provided the UK would allocate vaccines for them. Bello also made the same proposal with Germany.

DOLE Information and Publication Service (IPS) Director Rolly Francia clarified the proposal was to make sure the nurses are safe when deployed abroad and not for the country to have additional supply of COVID-19 vaccines. This was after the proposal drew ire for making nurses look like ‘commodities’ to be exchanged for vaccines.

“What Secretary Bello wants is to ensure that the nurse gets vaccinated if ever the request for an exemption in the cap would be granted by the President,” Francia said.

Nevertheless, Ambassador Pruce said he will meet with Bello in the coming weeks to further discuss the issue. AAC (with reports from Janice Ingente)

DOLE urged to speed up distribution of Bayanihan 2 cash aid for displaced teachers

Robie de Guzman   •   February 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Tuesday called on the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to fast-track the distribution of financial aid allotted for teachers and non-teaching personnel under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2 Law).

Gatchalian made the call as he lamented the slow pace of distribution of aid for teachers who were displaced by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The senator pointed out that the education sector should have been prioritized because it is one of the most battered by the public health crisis.

“Bakit inabot ng ganitong katagal ang ayuda para sa mga guro?” said Gatchalian who chairs Senate committee on basic education, arts and culture.

“Ang ayudang nakalaan sa ilalim ng Bayanihan 2 ay matagal nang hinihintay ng mga guro at mga non-teaching personnel na nawalan ng trabaho. Ngayong tuloy tuloy pa rin ang tanggalan sa maraming opisina at mayroon nang bagong variant ang COVID-19, marapat lamang na maipaabot na sa kanila ang ayudang matagal nang ipinangakong magpapaluwag sa kanilang mga pasanin,” he added.

The Bayanihan 2, which was signed on September 2020, allotted P300 million for the provision of a one-time cash assistance to displaced teaching and non-teaching personnel in private and public elementary, secondary, and tertiary education institutions.

Part-time faculty in State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) who have lost their jobs or who have not received their wages are also entitled to receive these subsidies.

In the basic sector education, Gatchalian said that some 4,488 teachers are affected by the suspension of operations in 865 private schools, as reported by the Department of Education (DepEd) last September.

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) also reported last May that some 50,000 part-time lecturers of private colleges and universities working on a “no work, no pay basis” need financial aid.

While Gatchalian admitted that the funds are not enough to ease the burden of displaced teachers and non-teaching staff, he urged DOLE to iron out the final guidelines with CHED and DepEd to avoid the same woes as the distribution of aid under the Social Amelioration Program.

DOLE to release new policy on workplace ventilation

Marje Pelayo   •   February 12, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of  Labor and Employment (DOLE) is finalizing a new set of guidelines to follow regarding proper ventilation in workplaces.

Last year, DOLE and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) issued joint guidelines to control and curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in workplaces.

According to Labor Assistant Sec. Maria Teresita Cucueco, the guidelines aimed at ensuring the protection of workers from coronavirus transmission especially in malls, restaurants, hotels and other commercial establishments.

“The policy on ventilation for workplaces is in the pipeline to ensure that air is clean and lower the risk of COVID infection. If there’s proper ventilation, even if one is sick, there will be no transmission,” the official said in a statement.

From among the 70,000 establishments that DOLE inspected, about 90% were compliant.

Under the guidelines, non-compliant firms will be sanctioned with fines of P20,000 to P100,000 per day until they comply with proper ventilation requirement.

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