Hontiveros wants probe on retrenchment of nearly 500 Dole Philippines workers

Robie de Guzman   •   December 4, 2020   •   652

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Risa Hontiveros on Friday called on the government to look into the alleged irregularities in the mass retrenchment of nearly 500 regular workers of canned pineapple producer and exporter, Dole Philippines Inc. (Dolefil).

In a letter addressed to Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Hontiveros said that the company has not suffered any substantial and imminent losses in recent years to legally retrench its workers, based on their latest Annual Audited Financial Statements.

She also questioned why the company filed the notice of retrenchment on September 18, 2020, three days after the actual termination of the workers.

The mass retrenchment also appeared to have been done in bad faith as the company prioritized the termination of a significant number of regular workers instead of contractual employees, she added.

“Nakakaalarma rin na sa kabila ng pagreregular nila sa nasa 5,000 employees noong 2018 bilang suporta sa kampanya ng gobyerno laban sa endo, nagpatuloy pa rin silang maghire ng contractual workers. This clearly belied the basis given for the retrenchment of its regular workers,” she said in a statement.

The senator called on the labor department to mediate between Dolefil and the retrenched workers to determine the company’s possible violations of labor laws and to bring forth “a mutually-acceptable solution to prevent a more serious labor dispute.”

Hontiveros likewise urged the department to look into other companies that might have been illegally dismissing their employees amid the pandemic.

“Ngayong maraming negosyo ang naapektuhan ng economic recession, huwag nating hayaang masangkalan ang kapakanan ng mga manggagawa. At the end of the day, workers’ welfare and rights should come first. They should always be our top priority,” she said.

Dolefil has yet to issue a statement on the matter.

Senate seeks probe on alleged DOH mismanagement of P67-B COVID-19 fund

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 12, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate wants to look into the alleged mismanagement of funds of the Department of Health (DOH) allotted for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) response.

After the recent assessment of the Commission on Audit (COA), senators are seeking to investigate the deficiencies on the DOH’s P67.32 billion COVID-19 budget.

COA attributed the said deficiencies to the health department’s non-compliance with pertinent laws and regulations, including the use of funds not for the intended purpose.

Senator Grace Poe said this proves to be counter-beneficial to the government’s efforts to curb the spread of the disease at a crucial time.

“These funds were provided to strengthen the agency’s health resources in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the implementation deficiencies denied our countrymen their right to health at a time when it is most needed,” she said.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said the Senate should “particularly look into the P3.97 billion worth of contracts and projects with procedural deficiencies in the procurement process and lacking documentation.”

“It is imperative that we examine closely the DOH’s use of billions of pesos in COVID-19 response funds given the findings of the COA and the corruption allegations that hounded the agency’s procurement of various COVID-19 equipment and supplies,” Drilon said.

Drilon said DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III’s ineptitude is sabotaging the government’s response to the pandemic.

“While we see a shortage of beds, PPEs, ventilators, oxygen tanks, the DOH incurred P24.64 billion in unobligated funds that could have augmented our medical resources and paid on time the risk allowance of our medical frontliners,” Drilon said.

Meanwhile, Senator Risa Hontiveros said the country needs commitment and competence from the DOH leadership to ensure every peso budgeted and allocated would save lives.

“Given the COA findings, the DOH seems to be depriving thousands of Filipinos of healthcare services in the face of national emergency and it is nothing short of criminal,” she said. AAC

Hontiveros urges COMELEC to extend voter registration period in areas under ECQ

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 2, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Risa Hontiveros has called on the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to extend the voter registration period in areas under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

“It is only logical to extend the voter registration period by at least two more weeks. It’s two more weeks that may prove critical for our country’s future,” she said.

COMELEC spokesperson James Jimenez has earlier expressed concern about moving the target schedule, adding the poll body is not likely to extend the voter registration period because there are other things to prepare aside from the official voter’s list.

However, the senator says the challenges brought on by the pandemic must be considered as “extraordinary circumstances”.

“I agree that deadlines should be observed. But, hopefully, in this case, COMELEC can make one last necessary extension,” said Hontiveros.

“COVID-19’s Delta variant has already disrupted our communities. Let it not get in the way of our citizens’ desire to participate in the May 2022 elections,” she added.

COMELEC already suspended voter registration in areas under ECQ from August 6 to 20. AAC

Hontiveros urges DOLE to address labor abuses reported by food delivery drivers

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—Senator Risa Hontiveros is urging the Department of Labor and Employment to address the issue of labor abuses reported by food delivery drivers.

The senator made the call after food delivery app Food Panda suspended at least 500 accredited riders in Davao City after participating in a unity ride in support of other riders who were suspended and denied access to the mobile app for 10 years.

The group is also complaining about the recent fare adjustment which significantly decreased their earnings to as low as P20.00 per ride.

Nananawagan ako sa DOLE na aksyunan agad ang hinaing ng ating delivery riders na nakararanas ng panggigipit sa mobile app operators,” she said.

(I am urging DOLE to address the complaints of our delivery riders who are experiencing problems with mobile app operators.)

Hontiveros called on DOLE to look into the plight of food delivery riders in Davao. She said there should also be guidelines and labor standards to protect the welfare of the riders.

“Failure to act on such grievances is negligence on the part of the government,” she said.

The senator also filed a resolution seeking an investigation into the working conditions of the so-called ‘gig economy’, which includes delivery riders, to address labor issues surrounding the emerging sector. AAC




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