MANILA, Philippines – Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III has rejected the plan of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) to ban smoking in a bid to curb the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country.
In a statement on Friday, Bello said the IATF originally planned to prohibit smoking but DOLE opposed this owing to its serious repercussions on businesses and employment.
“We can’t ban smoking because it will adversely affect the tobacco industry,” Bello said.
The labor chief stressed that the tobacco business remits to the government P145 billion in excise taxes yearly while employing 2.5 million Filipino workers. It contributes heavily to the universal health fund of the government.
“If we ban smoking, those figures will be severely affected,” he said.
“My job is to protect and preserve employment. To achieve that, I help shops to stay in business,” he added.
As a result of DOLE’s position on the matter, smoking is still allowed, but doing so should be done individually in designated smoking areas.
“We can smoke in smoking areas. But the condition is one smoker at a time,” Bello explained.
Meanwhile, Bello assured that the Labor Department will continue extending financial assistance to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) displaced by the pandemic.
During the COVID-19 Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (CODE) Team Visit in General Trias, Cavite on Thursday,Bello awarded 30 certificates of the financial aid to OFW beneficiaries of Silang so it can help its troubled migrant workers.
Each certificate entitles an OFW beneficiary to a P20,000 initial capital for livelihood or business.
DOLE gave similar financial aid to 20 distressed migrant workers in Antipolo on Wednesday.
MANILA, Philippines – More than 136,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFW) have been transported to their respective home provinces, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said.
In a statement on Wednesday, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that the latest batch of 2,667 OFWs who were cleared of coronavirus disease was sent home on August 11.
This brings the total to 136,509 OFWs provided with a package of DOLE assistance since it started transporting OFWs en masse in May after undergoing tests and quarantine, Bello said.
The labor chief added that the department, with the help of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and other government agencies, have been providing OFWs with assistance including accommodation, food, transportation and coronavirus testing upon their arrival in the country.
This is aside from a one-time P10,000 or $200 aid under its Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) program to OFWs affected by the pandemic, both on-site and stranded in the country.
Bello recently welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte’s approval of an additional P5 billion fund for its assistance program which will benefit more OFWs.
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.
UNTV is a major TV broadcast network with 24-hour programming. An Ultra High Frequency station with strong brand content that appeal to everyone, UNTV is one of the most trusted and successful Philippine networks that guarantees wholesome and quality viewing experience.