DOLE affirms commitment to reforms initiated by PRRD

MANILA — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Saturday has reaffirmed its commitment to the reforms initiated by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III said part of this commitment is the regularization of more than 200,000 contractual employees and the signing of bilateral agreements to protect the welfare of Filipino workers abroad, among others.

“For one, we are steadfast in according full protection to workers by ensuring job security pursuant to the directive of the President,” he said in a statement.

Based on DOLE data, from August 2016 to date, a total of 321,964 workers were regularized. Of this total, 202,779 workers were regularized through voluntary regularization while 119,185 were regularized through inspections.

“We aim to regularize 300,000 employees in 2018, 243,418 of which were already regularized during the first half of the year,” Bello said.

“We have taken initiatives to pursue effective implementation of the right to security of tenure and eliminate practices that circumvent the law prohibiting illegal contractual arrangements,” he added.

As for the protection and welfare of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), Bello noted that they have signed Bilateral Labor Agreements with four countries, three of them in the Gulf State.

“And in order to strengthen the protection of our migrant workers, we signed Bilateral Labor Agreements with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates and Cambodia. We have likewise repatriated almost 22,000 migrant workers in distress since 2016,” he said.

“We have established 18 One-Stop Service Centers for OFWs across the country integrating all frontline services of key government agencies for OFWs. Also, we have initially rolled out the iDOLE card for OFWs that will eventually replace the Overseas Employment Certificate and help ease doing business with government,” the DOLE chief added.

At the same time, Bello noted that the government has provided employment to the people of Marawi, who were displaced by the May 2017 conflict, and also to workers in Boracay affected by the six-month rehabilitation of the island.

“Employment facilitation services and livelihood assistance were also provided to some 8,000 victims of the Marawi Siege composed of internally displaced persons (IDPs), dependents of soldiers and policemen,” he said.

“Financial assistance, livelihood and emergency employment were provided to affected workers under the Boracay Emergency Employment Program (BEEP), of which, 1,963 cash cards issued for first Financial Support tranche as of 27 June 2018 with a total amount of PHP 9,529,663.00. Additional 500 cash cards were issued on July 8. Around 2,960 informal sector workers were provided with emergency employment amounting to PHP 23,166,689.22, and another PHP 1 million to 339 members of Malay Association of Sailing Boat Owner,” he added.

Bello also reported that DOLE’s employment facilitation program, through the Trabaho, Negosyo, Kabuhayan, mounted 108 job and livelihood events in 2017, where of 384,379 job vacancies from 2,258 employers were offered to 80,592 qualified applicants.

From these undertakings, 9,684 were hired on the spot. Also, 3,680 MSMEs were assisted in the TNK seminars.

“In the face of challenges, we are undaunted and remain committed to endeavor for the realization of decent job for the Filipino workers in an atmosphere of freedom where their rights are respected and welfare upheld,” he said. Ferdinand Patinio/PNA –