Baldoz orders release of initial P5.5-M in emergency employment, livelihood funds for workers in regions affected by typhoon 'Pablo'

December 7, 2012 11:18 pm 

MANILA, Dec. 7 — Department of Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz ordered the release on Friday of an initial P5.5 million funding for emergency employment and livelihood of workers who were displaced by typhoon "Pablo" in Caraga Region and Compostela Valley.

In the town of New Bataan, Compostela Valley, workers of Freshmax Corporation, a Korean-owned plantation company, have been heavily displaced because its banana plantation was totally wiped out by flash floods.

Of the amount, P500,000 will be for livelihood and emergency employment assistance to workers in the Caraga Region. The rest of the amount will be for affected workers in the Compostela Valley.

"We have to respond immediately to the workers' call for assistance, especially those who were hardest hit by the typhoon," Baldoz said.

Barely two weeks ago, Freshmax Corporation and its workers' union, Freshmax Workers Union-NAFLU-KMU, peacefully ended a labor dispute after Secretary Baldoz sent in a team of NCMB mediator-conciliators, and finally concluded a collective bargaining agreement, scheduling its signing this month, but typhoon Pablo totally set back this timetable.

In a report to Secretary Baldoz, the National Conciliation and Mediation Board said the corporation needs at least US$ 1.2 million to rehabilitate its banana plantation.

DOLE Regional Office No. 11 Director Joffrey Suyao said the initial funding assistance will enable those workers displaced by the typhoon to work for more than 15 days in clean-up and rehabilitation work, such as dredging of silted canals, road and bridges repair, repair of public buildings, and other repair work.

Meantime, Baldoz had instructed Director Suyao to work with Region 11's Banana Industry Tripartite Council (BITC) in the implementation of the strategies contained in the Banana Industry Convergence Plan, which is being supported by the DOLE's tripartite sectors and the local governments in the region.

"We need to work together to realize the goals of this DOLE-led convergence plan for the country’s banana industry to restore and maintain its footing as a pillar of the country’s rural agriculture, and at the same time ensure its capacity to surmount and bounce back from any crises, including typhoons and other calamities, affecting the global market at any given time," she said.

Meanwhile, Suyao also reported to the labor chief that the recent typhoon left 322 deaths, 250 missing persons, and 15,000 families with 95 percent totally wrecked/damaged houses in the areas of Cateel, Boston, and Baganga in Compostela Valley. He also emphasized that most of the victims are from the informal sectors whose daily income depends on their daily work — vending and other micro entrepreneurial activities that demand their daily presence.

To address the pressing needs of the affected workers, Suyao proposed an emergency employment assistance program which will provide temporary employment for 1,000 individuals from the families affected by the calamity, including the displaced workers of Freshmax Corporation.

Funding for the said project will be sourced from the DOLE-Adjustment Measures Program (AMP) while the LGU or the business enterprise counterpart will provide the tools, equipment, and other materials worth P1,000,000. This makes the total cost of the program amount to P4,000,000.

The beneficiaries, who will be screened and selected by the Public Employment Service Office (PESO), will work for 12 days, or the period between Dec. 16, 2012 and Jan. 31, 2013, to clean-up debris, declog canals, and assist in other priority infrastructure projects of the LGU including the rehabilitation of agricultural structures.

“This project is in coordination with the LGUs, Barangay Council, PESO, and Municipal Social Welfare District Office (MSWDO),” Suyao said.

“The income that the worker-beneficiary will get from this emergency employment program will help them rise from the tragedy that took everything they had and start anew,” Suyao added. (PNA)

SCS/PR/UTB

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