LGUs may recruit TUPAD workers as contact tracers – Bello

Robie de Guzman   •   April 19, 2021   •   208

MANILA, Philippines – Local government units (LGU) may now utilize the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) cash for work program, Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced (TUPAD) to recruit contact tracers, the labor chief said.

In a statement, DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that aside from Metro Manila, LGUs in other areas needing additional contact tracers may tap TUPAD beneficiaries as contact tracers in their respective jurisdictions.

Bello said he already informed the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) of this move to support the requirements of various LGUs for additional contact tracers, especially in areas with high cases of novel coronavirus disease.

DOLE regional directors have also been given the discretion to approve requests of local chief executives to tap TUPAD beneficiaries as contact tracers in their respective areas.

“In our meeting with the DILG, I already told Acting Secretary (Bernardo) Florece that he can allocate to any LGU the number of contact tracers to be employed under our TUPAD program,” he added.

Florece was designated as DILG officer in charge in March while Secretary Eduardo Año was on medical leave.

TUPAD is an emergency employment program for displaced informal sector workers. Beneficiaries are provided with temporary employment that runs between 10 days to 30 days, and paid the prevailing daily minimum wage in their respective areas.

Beneficiaries are normally those displaced by natural calamities like typhoon, earthquake, volcanic eruption or disasters and accidents like fire, among others.

“Since the DILG has problems funding the contact tracing of LGUs, I thought it wise to offer our TUPAD program for that purpose,” Bello said.

“In this manner, we are not only providing emergency employment to our displaced workers but also helping the urgent need of the community to stop the spread of the disease through contact tracing,” he added.

At the height of the lockdowns last year, DOLE said that TUPAD beneficiaries were engaged to undertake disinfection and sanitation of their homes and immediate neighborhood to contain the spread of the virus.

Bello had initially offered 14,000 TUPAD beneficiaries as contact tracers for the requirements of LGUs in the National Capital Region and the provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite, and Laguna for a duration of one month.

But Metro Manila mayors requested that contract tracers be employed for three months instead for an allocation of P230 million equivalent to close to 5,000 contact tracers.

“The application and processing for NCR contact tracers under TUPAD started on Saturday and ends on April 22,” DOLE said.

Deployment of OFWs to Israel temporarily suspended — Bello

Marje Pelayo   •   May 17, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has announced that the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Israel is temporarily suspended due to the ongoing violence between Israeli forces and the Hamas militant group.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the safety of Filipinos is the government’s utmost concern at this time.

Most of the OFWs working in the Jewish country are caregivers and hotel workers.

Given the situation, Bello urges the Filipinos bound for Israel to wait until the tension subsides.

“Medyo maghintay-hintay lang po tayo dahil sa hindi magandang kondisyon sa Israel na patutunguhan natin ay meron muna tayong precautionary suspension ng deployment doon,” he said.

The official said quick response teams are on standby to rescue Filipinos who will be caught in the violence.

So far, there are no Filipinos injured or killed in the conflict, Bello confirmed.

However, Bello noted that while the Philippine government is ready should there be calls for repatriation, some OFWs opt to stay despite the dangers.

“Kasi yung mga iba nilipat na sa Egypt. Iyong safer place nilipat sila. libo-libo na yan nasa shelter lahat yan. We are ready to repatriate them merong rapid response team,” he added.

Alert Level 1 is still raised in Israel while Level 2 is raised in the Gaza Strip.

Mandatory repatriation will be triggered when the alert levels are elevated to 3 and 4.MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Umano’y nasayang na supply ng COVID-19 vaccine sa Cotabato, iniimbestigahan na — DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   May 17, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Iniimbestigahan na ng Department of Health (DOH) ang napaulat na pagkasayang umano ng supply ng COVID-19 vaccine na ipinadala sa bayan ng Makilala sa Cotabato.

Ayon kay Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, nasa 348 doses ng Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines ang umano’y nasayang matapos mapabayaan sa loob ng freezer nang magkaroon ng power outage sa lugar.

Paalala naman ng kagawaran sa mga lokal na pamahalaan na bantayang maigi ang kanilang COVID-19 vaccine supply upang matiyak ang wastong temperature sa pag-iimbak nito.

“Hindi lang po isang beses isang araw ang ginagawang pagmo-monitor ng temperatura ng bakuna. Ito po ay ginagawa kada apat na oras,” ani Vergeire.

Nakipag-ugnayan na aniya sila sa lokal na pamahalaan kaugnay ng insidente.

“As to the sanctions, they were already advised and the local government has been coordinated with by our regional Office,” ang wika ni Vergeire. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

IATF upgrades mayors, governors in COVID-19 vaccination priority list

Robie de Guzman   •   May 17, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has included mayors and governors in the top priority group for the government’s COVID-19 vaccination.

Under Resolution No. 115-B approved on Monday, the IATF said all governors and mayors or all local chief executives will now be among the priority group A1.5 for vaccination, “regardless of the risk classification of their respective local government units (LGU).

The country has around 1,634 provincial governors and city and municipal mayors.  They were previously under the fourth sector (A4 category) composed of essential workers.

The first sector includes healthcare workers, the second priority group is composed of senior citizens while the third sector includes persons with co-morbidities.

The Philippines has so far administered over two million vaccine doses since the government rolled out its immunization program on March 1.

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