Go renews push for OFW department amid COVID-19 crisis

Robie de Guzman   •   May 15, 2020   •   208

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Friday reiterated his call for the establishment of the proposed Department of Overseas Filipino Workers (DOFW) amid challenges posed by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to migrant workers.

In a statement, Go said that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected the world economy, resulting in significant losses of jobs for Filipinos abroad.

Go has been pushing for the creation of a department that will manage the welfare and address concerns of OFWs.

“Noon pa lamang ay marami nang mga issues ang kinakaharap ng ating mga kababayang nagtatrabaho abroad. Ang paglipat-lipat ng ahensya ay naging pabigat na proseso sa kanila mula sa pagkuha ng kanilang mga permit, hanggang sa pagbigay ng tulong para maresolba ang mga problemang hinaharap nila sa ibang bansa,” he said.

“Mas lumala pa ngayon dahil sa hirap na dulot ng COVID-19 crisis. Kung mayroon pong DOFWs, mas mapapadali sana ang koordinasyon ng mga ahensya at may iisang departamento na tututok sa mga pangangailangan nila,” he added.

Go filed a bill seeking for the establishment of OFW department in 2019. The House of Representatives has passed its version in March this year while its Senate counterpart remains pending in the committee on labor, employment and human resources development.

His proposed Senate Bill 202 or the Department of Overseas Filipinos Act of 2019 proposes to put government agencies dealing with OFW affairs under one umbrella.

The measure also aims to address perennial issues, such as the need to ease the coordination among offices concerned with OFW affairs; immediate legal assistance to OFWs in distress; lack of full migration cycle approach in promoting migrant’s rights from pre-employment, onsite and reintegration services; and lack of shared database system that contains all information of all OFWs to aid in tracking their status and fast track delivery of assistance to distressed workers.

Currently, services and information about OFWs are scattered throughout several offices.

“Madaming dinadaanan pang iba’t ibang ahensya bago makaresponde ang gobyerno sa mga OFWs na humihingi ng saklolo. Iba-iba ang concern, iba-iba ang kailangang lapitan pa mula DFA, OWWA, MARINA, at iba pa,” Go said.

“Nalilito ang ating mga OFWs sa pangkasalukuyang sitwasyon. Sa oras na kailangan nila ng saklolo, hindi na nila alam sino dapat lapitan kaya sa media o Facebook sila nananawagan,” he added.

If a department for OFWs will be created, Go said this will make government more efficient and responsive to the concerns of Filipinos abroad.

“If mayroon na tayong department for OFWs, iisa na lang ang lalapitan at iisa na lang ang makikipag-coordinate na departamento. Magiging mas maayos ang pagresponde sa mga krisis at mas mabilis nating matutulungan ang ating mga kababayang humihingi ng saklolo,” he stressed.

The lawmaker stressed that the challenges currently faced by OFWs and the difficulties experienced by the government in responding to their needs show the relevance of the proposal to establish a department with a sole mandate to handle the concerns of our “modern day heroes”.

“Nakita po natin ang mga pagsubok na pinagdaraanan ng ating mga OFWs dahil sa COVID-19. Napapanahon na talaga para magtatag tayo ng departamento upang mas maprotektahan ang kanilang kapakanan,” Go said.

OFWs displaced by the public health emergency have been repatriated to the country through flights facilitated by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and the Department of Labor and Employment have extended assistance to qualified OFW beneficiaries under the government’s livelihood and other assistance programs.

The Maritime Industry Authority, for its part, is implementing its Seafarers Uwi Pamilya program where seafarers stranded in Metro Manila are assisted in going home to their families in the provinces, subject to quarantine and other health protocols.

PNP mulls reopening of Custodial Center to visitors amid COVID-19 crisis

Robie de Guzman   •   May 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Friday said it will assess whether its Custodial Center can be reopened to visitors amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.

PNP chief Police General Archie Gamboa said they need to thoroughly study the possibility of reopening the facility because of its proximity to quarantine facilities housing police personnel infected with COVID-19 and the PNP RT-PCR test laboratory.

At present, the visitation of inmates at the PNP Custodial Center is prohibited in compliance with the safety and health protocols set by the government amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gamboa said they are only following the measure implemented by the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in the detention facilities in the country.

“Standard naman ‘yung sinusunod natin, together with the BuCor and BJMP. We need to reassess whether to open up sa visitors yung Custodial Center,” he said.

Gamboa’s statement comes after opposition senators questioned the PNP’s move to bar Senator Leila de Lima from accepting visitors and holding physical meetings with anyone.

The PNP chief, however, assured that De Lima is allowed to make phone calls. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

Renault closes site, restructures factories in France in bid to slash costs

UNTV News   •   May 29, 2020

PART MUST ON-SCREEN COURTESY RENAULT.

Renault said on Friday (May 29) it was launching talks with unions to restructure several French car plants, as it confirmed plans to cut around 15,000 jobs worldwide and the closure of one France plant.

Faced with a slump in demand that has been exacerbated by the coronavirus crisis, Renault is aiming to find 2 billion euros ($2.22 billion) in savings over the next three years as it shrinks production and hones in on key car models.

Speaking at a news conference on Friday, Interim Chief Executive Clotilde Delbos said 4,600 jobs in France are in peril of being cut.

Renault Group Board of Directors Chair Jean-Dominique Senard hailed the cost-reduction plan to be both “defensive” and “offensive,” as he announced the closure of the Choisy-le-Roi factory, which manufactures motors, the sole plant to halt activity out of Renault’s 14 plant sites.

Senard said though that the Caudan site in Brittany, which was also threatened of closing will maintain operations, adding that Renault is working with the regional government to think about the future of the plant. (Reuters)

(Production: Ardee Napolitano)

DSWD calls on LGUs to speed up liquidation report for release of SAP second tranche

Robie de Guzman   •   May 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Wednesday urged local government units (LGU) to expedite the encoding and transmittal of their liquidation reports on the distribution of the first tranche of the government’s social amelioration project (SAP).

The DSWD said the liquidation reports from LGUs are necessary as this would be used for the validation of beneficiaries and checking of the disbursement for the release of SAP’s second tranche.

The SAP is part of the government’s efforts to assist families heavily affected by the community quarantines due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The liquidation report is vital in the process of validation as it includes the report of the disbursement (containing the photos of the recipients, Social Amelioration Card Forms, and amount of cash received); Report of Checks Issued and Report of Disbursements certified by the LGU accountant and approved by the Local Chief Executive; and a copy of the Official Receipt for the refund/return of unutilized SAP funds,” the department said in a statement.

The DSWD explained that the validation and vetting process by its field offices can only be done when the data per LGU have been submitted in its entirety.

The department noted that the process will take approximately 15 days since validation on municipal, provincial, and regional levels takes place at the field office levels.

The DSWD Central Office will then conduct cross-matching with other government agencies’ lists of beneficiaries to avoid duplicity and ineligibility. The process will take another seven days in order to ensure that the recipients are indeed among the SAP’s target beneficiaries.

“The DSWD is exhausting all means to shorten the vetting and validation process, however, we need the full cooperation of the LGUs in order to effect this,” it said.

The department said that of the 1,479 LGUs that have completed the first tranche of SAP, only 659 had submitted liquidation reports as of Wednesday.

The DSWD earlier said it is still awaiting guidelines from the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases for the distribution of the second tranche.

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