Duterte ends appointment of Bello, 3 others as gov’t peace negotiators

Robie de Guzman   •   March 20, 2019   •   2058

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has terminated the appointment of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III as the government’s chief peace negotiator following the collapse of peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, “by order of the President,” signed the termination letter dated March 18.

Aside from Bello, Duterte also ordered the termination of the role of Antonio Arellano, Angela Librado-Trinidad and Rene Sarmiento as members of the government peace negotiating panel.

The letters say the termination of their designation is effective immediately.

The four were also directed to return all the documents about the government peace process.

“To ensure uninterrupted delivery of public service, you are hereby directed to turn over all official documents, papers and properties in your possession to the office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity,” the letter read.

READ: Malacañang to CPP-NPA-NDF: Move on and don’t blame the gov’t for termination of talks

Duterte terminated the peace talks with the Reds in November 2017 following a string of attacks staged by the NPA rebels against government troops. – Robie de Guzman/Rosalie Coz

Construction of PH’s first ever OFW hospital begins in Pampanga

Marje Pelayo   •   November 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — A health facility dedicated to the country’s modern-day heroes — the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs)— is set to rise in Pampanga. 

The 100-bed capacity hospital is set to rise on a two-hectare land donated by the provincial government of Pampanga specifically in the municipality of San Fernando.

The construction of the said health facility has been made possible with the P500 million donation of Bloomberry Cultural Foundation, Inc. (BCFI), an entity established by the operator of Solaire Resort and Casino.

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) said that the soon-to-rise OFW hospital will immensely help the country’s modern-day heroes who endure homesickness just to provide for their families and keep the economy afloat.

“We will finally have this very first, modern and state-of-the-art health facility intended solely for the care and medical needs of our OFWs,” said PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Andrea Domingo who graced the kick-off event on Thursday (November 26) along with other key government officials. 

BCFI President Donato Almeda said that many Filipinos rely on the OFW’s contribution to the national economy through their remittances. 

However, very little assistance or recognition is given to them when they finally return home to retire.

Secretary of Labor and Employment Silvestre Bello III, who also graced the event, expressed his gratitude to PAGCOR, BCFI and the provincial government of Pampanga for helping promote the welfare of overseas workers through their commitment to build the health facility. MNP / Beth Pilares

DOLE urges employers to help workers open bank accounts

Marje Pelayo   •   October 5, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has recently urged employers to help their respective workers open bank accounts in any e-money issuers (EMIs).

According to the Labor Advisory No. 026 series of 2020, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III encouraged private companies to utilize transaction accounts to pay employees’ wages and other monetary benefits.

This aims to prevent delays in distribution of workers’ wages and other monetary benefits and to give employees access to financial services for the promotion of their welfare.

Bello said that aside from being a safe mode for fund transfer, using transaction accounts is financially inclusive.

“Paying wages and monetary benefits of workers the digital way helps the government promote financial inclusivity,” Bello said.

However, Bello said employers are still required to comply with existing laws including the issuance of payslips or records of payment and deduction in using this medium.

In support of Bello, DOLE Regional offices across the country are taking the initiative to lead workers and employees transition into cashless transactions.

This will help abate the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) among workers, the DOLE stressed.

Also, such a move must not have additional fees or expenses on the part of the workers.

“Neither should there be diminution of wages and other monetary benefits,” DOLE-6 Director Cyril Ticao said adding that the regional office has also been promoting digital payment as a safer alternative to cash transactions since it reduces physical contact and minimizes the possibility of spreading COVID-19.

DOLE seeks P2.5 billion more cash aid for OFWs displaced by pandemic

Robie de Guzman   •   July 6, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is seeking to get additional budget for its cash assistance program for the growing number of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) affected by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

DOLE said that as of July 4, its overseas offices and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) have recorded a total of 551,606 aid applications from land-based and sea-based workers who are either still in host countries or have already returned to the Philippines.

“The fund released to us is fast depleting. So far, our offices approved the requests of 224,756 OFWs, 128,348 of whom are still locked down or stranded in their countries of work,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said in a statement.

The agency had been given P2.5 billion in two tranches to finance its Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) program, a one-time cash aid of $200 or P10,000 to help Filipino workers displaced by the pandemic. The budget for the program came from the emergency fund under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

Of the 250,000 expected beneficiaries of the program, around 188,473 have already received the cash aid from DOLE as of July 4 amounting to some P1.927 billion, DOLE said.

Of those who have received the aid, 105,756 are on-site while the remaining beneficiaries have returned to the country, it added.

With additional funding, AKAP will be able to extend emergency assistance to close to half a million OFWs, Bello said.

Bello hopes that President Rodrigo Duterte will grant their request to extend help to more OFWs in need.

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