DOLE vows immediate repatriation of Filipino casualties in Beirut blast

Robie de Guzman   •   August 6, 2020   •   295

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has assured it is now extending assistance to the family of the Filipino workers who died in the powerful blasts that occurred in Beirut, Lebanon on August 4.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III condoled with the families of the two Filipino workers who were among the reported fatalities in the twin explosions.

“We condole with the families of the two Filipino workers who perished in the tragic accident in Beirut,” he said.

Bello said the families of those who died in the incident have been duly notified and that the agency is working on the immediate repatriation of their remains.

“We shall expedite the release of appropriate insurance and OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration) benefits for all victims of the tragedy,” he said.

On Wednesday, two powerful blasts ripped through the Port of Beirut, Lebanon that left at least 100 people dead and more than 4,000 injured.

The Department of Foreign Affairs earlier said that eight Filipinos were also hurt in the incident while the 11 others who were earlier reported missing have been found and accounted for.

The labor chief said they are also praying for the fast recovery of the Filipinos who are still undergoing treatment in various hospitals in Lebanon for the serious injuries they sustained.

Bello said his office is coordinating closely with Beirut authorities for the safe return of Filipino workers who wish to avail of the Philippine government’s repatriation program.

30,000 OFW children in college to benefit from P1-B education subsidy

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 28, 2020

More than 30,000 college students who are dependents of repatriated, displaced, and deceased overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) will benefit from the government’s P1 billion education subsidy, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III signed a memorandum of agreement to launch “Tabang OFW”. The program aims to provide a one-time financial assistance of P30,000 to one college-level dependent of a repatriated, displaced, or deceased OFW.

Bello said the program is just one of the government’s ways of reciprocating the sacrifices of overseas Filipinos.

“We hope this will go a long way in helping our OFWs and their children in these most challenging times. By doing this, we also hope we can partly repay our modern-day heroes,” he said.

Under the agreement the Labor Department shall issue orders, circulars or guidelines that will spell out the effective and efficient implementation of the program while the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) will release the funds amounting to P1 billion to DOLE for its implementation.

The Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) will assist DOLE on the promotion and other information dissemination activities of the program. AAC

PH seeks rescue assistance from China, S. Korea, Taiwan to locate missing seafarers from sunken Gulf Livestock 1

Marje Pelayo   •   September 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said it has sought the assistance of national Coast Guards from China, South Korea and Taiwan to help locate the Filipino crew men of the livestock cargo vessel that sank off south-western Japan.

 In a meeting on Thursday (September 25), Bello assured the kin of missing seafarers that the government is doing its best to find the answers as to what happened to their loved ones. 

“I know you’re in a very difficult situation, but there’s hope,” Bello told wives, siblings and parents of the missing seafarers.

Prior to this, the Japanese Coast guard, which found three Filipino mariners—two survivors and one fatality—announced that it has stopped its special operations for the remaining crew —36 Filipinos, two Australians and two New Zealanders–of the ill-fated MV Gulf Livestock 1.

“So don’t give up on your loved ones because there’s really hope. Three foreign governments are helping us find them,” Bello, who requested the assistance abroad, said

Huang Xilian, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of China, said China has already commenced rescue operations.

The Chinese government announced, however, that they have not found any sign of the missing seafarers during their rescue operations on September 19 and 20. 

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s Ambassador Peiyung Hsu told Belo his request was immediately conveyed to the Taiwan Coast Guard (TCG).

“Rest assured that your good office will be kept posted on any findings or developments of the said operations,” he said.

Meanwhile, South Korean Ambassador Han Dong-Man in response to Bello’s request said he has already forwarded the endorsement to their Ministry of Foreign Affairs for proper action.

“I am hoping that our government’s participation in any search and rescue operation that may be conducted will shed light on the status of the missing crew,” the official added.

Given these developments, families of the missing mariners thanked Bello for giving them hope. Each family of the victims present during the meeting was given financial assistance by DOLE through the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

DOLE survey shows workers want more secure bike lanes

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 15, 2020

Filipino workers want more secure bike lanes and parking, based on the recent survey of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

“Majority of the workers are in favor of having more bike lanes on paved roads, bike paths, and more secured bike parking,” the Labor Department said in a statement.

Respondents also said feeling unsafe is what prevents them from using the bike as transportation. They do not feel safe traveling due to poor road conditions as well as lack of secured bike parking areas.

DOLE conducted the survey in line with their Bike-to-Work Project, which aims to assist workers in this time of pandemic by providing bicycles as a transport option or a livelihood opportunity.

The survey yielded a total of 1,119 respondents, with the majority of them coming from the National Capital Region (NCR).

“The preliminary results of the research, which was carried out at the onset of the relaxing of community quarantine in Metro Manila and other parts of the country, were presented to DOLE Senior officials to discuss possible projects and policy recommendations,” DOLE said. -AAC

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