Labor chief Bello bucks proposed smoking ban to protect employment
Robie de Guzman • August 14, 2020 • 324
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 — 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).
MANILA, Philippines — The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) is now requiring facility-based isolation for confirmed asymptomatic and mild coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases through IATF Resolution 74.
The new policy however, exempts patients who are considered vulnerable or having comorbidities and their home meets the conditions specified in the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Joint Administrative Order 2020-0001.
Likewise, another exception is when the Ligtas COVID-19 Centers within the region are fully occupied and the local government unit does not have sufficient isolation facilities.
MANILA, Philippines — Iloilo City has been placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) effective September 25 until October 9 due to the increasing number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the city.
According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque the new measure is based on the issued Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Resolution 74 which also requires facility-based isolation for confirmed asymptomatic and mild COVID-19 cases.
However, the resolution exempts patients who are considered vulnerable or having comorbidities as confirmed by the local health officer.
Another exception would be when the Ligtas COVID-19 Centers within the region are fully occupied and the local government unit does not have sufficient isolation facilities.
On Tuesday (September 22), 33 employees of the Iloilo City Hall tested positive for COVID-19 prompting the three-day temporary closure of the establishment beginning Wednesday (September 23) as declared by Mayor Jerry Treñas in Executive Order No. 215-A.
Prior to that, 13 barangays in the city were placed under total lockdown due to the increase in community transmission of COVID-19.
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