POEA, OWWA to be placed as part of Department of OFW

Maris Federez   •   September 18, 2019   •   617

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is pushing for the inclusion of several of its attached agencies in the creation of the Department of OFW.

Based on the proposal submitted by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to the Lower House, he recommended to place the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and the National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO) as part of the Department of OFW.

Aside from the aforementioned agencies, Bello also proposed to include in the soon to be created department all other entities that cater to the needs and welfare of Filipino workers abroad.

“May mga existing bureau services like yung International Labor Affairs Bureau ng DOLE, yung OWWA ng DFA, yung CFO ng Office of the President, ipapaabsorb diyan sa department na yan,” Bello said. (from the report of Vincent Arboleda) /mbmf

DOLE reminds employers to observe holiday pay rules on Chinese New Year

Robie de Guzman   •   January 23, 2020

Filipino-Chinese revelers scramble to get candies in celebration of the Chinese New Year at Manila’s Chinatown, Philippines, 08 February 2016. Filipino-Chinese communities welcome the Year of the Monkey, holding various activities and practices traditionally believed to bring good fortune for revelers. EPA/FRANCIS R. MALASIG

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Thursday reminded employers to follow the rules on wages for workers who will be on duty during the celebration of Chinese New Year on Saturday, January 25.

In a statement, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said workers who will report to work on Saturday, which is a special non-working day, will get full pay plus 30 percent of their basic wage.

In Labor Advisory No. 2 issued on January 20, DOLE said that employees who will work on Chinese New Year shall be paid an additional 30 percent of their basic wage in the first eight hours. Their basic wage shall be multiplied by 130 percent plus cost of living adjustment or allowance (COLA).  

If they work in excess of eight hours, they will be paid an additional 30 percent on their hourly rate. 

For work done during a special day that also falls on the workers’ rest day, they shall be paid an additional 50 percent of their basic wage on the first eight hours of work, and if done in excess of eight hours (overtime work), they shall be paid an additional 30 percent of their hourly rate. 

Thus, the computation will be ‘hourly rate of the basic wage x 150 percent x 130 percent x number of hours work.’

“If the employee did not work, the ‘no work, no pay’ principle shall apply unless there is favorable company policy, practice or collective bargaining agreement (CBA) granting payment on a special day,” reads the advisory.

The pay rules for January 25 special non-working day is pursuant to Proclamation No. 845 issued by President Rodrigo Duterte in November 2019.

DOLE assures cash, livelihood aid for Filipinos repatriated from Middle East

Robie de Guzman   •   January 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has assured that overseas Filipino workers (OFW) who were recently repatriated from the Middle East will be provided with livelihood and cash assistance from the government.

In a statement, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said returning Filipinos from Iraq amid tensions between the United States and Iran will get cash aid amounting to P20,000, for active members of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and P10,000 for non-active members.

Last January 15, around 13 Filipinos evacuated from Iraq arrived in Manila along with some labor officials.  

The DOLE said that a total of 1,640 Filipinos, documented and undocumented, are currently in Iraq. From these figures, 847 are staying in Baghdad, 655 in Erbil, and 148 in Sulaymaniyah.

The Philippine government ordered for a mandatory repatriation of Filipino workers in Iraq last January 8. It was triggered by the hoisting of alert level 4 due to the security threats in Middle East.

The alert level for Filipinos in Iraq was raised after Iran launched a series of ballistic missile attack at Iraq’s bases, where US forces were housed.

Iran’s firing of rockets was in retaliation for the death of top military general Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad last January 3.

On the same day, more than 170 passengers were killed after Iran shot down a Ukrainian plane while on alert following its missile attack against US forces.

Filipinos in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East who wish to avail of the government’s repatriation program are advised to contact the Embassy for assistance in securing exit visas and other necessary documents to ensure smooth repatriation process.

OFW deployment ban to Kuwait to stay until 2018 labor pact fully implemented – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   January 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The total deployment ban of Filipino workers to Kuwait will remain in effect until the labor agreement signed in 2018 between the two countries is fully implemented, Malacañang said Friday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the labor department’s call for a total ban on deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) to Kuwait following the killing of household service worker Jeanelyn Villavende.

“The Palace wishes to inform the public that President Duterte has approved the recommendation of Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III on the total deployment ban of Filipino workers in Kuwait,” Panelo said.

He added that the ban will stay until the memorandum of agreement between the two countries is fully honored and “the terms contained therein are incorporated in every labor contract with our OFWs.”

Bello earlier said he recommended a total deployment ban to Kuwait after results of a re-autopsy by the National Bureau of Investigation revealed that Villavende had several missing internal organs and had “clear indications of sexual abuse.”

The re-autopsy was conducted after a certificate released by Kuwait’s Ministry of Health showed that Villavende died of “acute failure of heart and respiration” as a result of shock and multiple injuries.

In a statement on Thursday, Bello said the implementation of a total deployment ban of workers was fueled by the alleged attempt of the Kuwaiti government “to cover-up the true case of death” of Villavende.

He said the re-autopsy on the Filipino worker’s remains was in complete contrast to the report of the Kuwaiti authorities.

Bello also said that another cause for the ban was the failure of the Kuwaiti government to come into an agreement regarding the standard employment contract in accordance with the Memorandum of Agreement in 2018.

“Under the MOU, we were supposed to come up with a standard employment contract in order to provide sufficient protection for our OFWs. That’s almost two years ago of discussing and debating but until now, we have not finalized anything,” Bello said.

The total ban covers the processing and deployment of all household service workers, semi-skilled, skilled workers and professionals including Filipino crew seafarers for Kuwait.

However, skilled workers and professionals who have unexpired contracts or categorized as Balik-Manggagawa, and those who will be cleared by the Secretary of Labor are exempted from the ban.

“Those who will come home for a vacation and has an existing contract are still allowed to travel to Kuwait, however, workers with new contracts will be covered by the ban. This move is nothing less than for the protection of our workers,” Bello said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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