DOLE asked to help prevent more job cuts

SENATOR Joel Villanueva has asked the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to provide companies with all necessary assistance to help them adjust to the New Normal and prevent deeper job cuts.

As workers continued to be retrenched, Villanueva cited the possibility of the government helping factories be repurposed to produce the needs of the country.

He also asked the government to campaign to buy Filipino products, and ensure safe and COVID-free workplaces to fully reopen the economy and prevent further retrenchment of workers and business closures.

“DOLE and DTI should not just be counting and reporting lost jobs and closures. Concrete measures to stop the hemorrhage should be implemented, aside from ensuring compliance with the rights and benefits of laid-off workers,” Villanueva urged as massive waves of retrenchments are expected to continue in the coming months.

“Tulad po ng mga forecast ng ating mga ekonomista, inaasahan pa po natin na magpapatuloy ang mga retrenchment sa mga susunod na buwan. Hindi naman dapat tayo makontento sa pagbibilang na lamang, higit na kailangan natin ng programang naglalayong sumalo sa mga manggagawang nawalan ng trabaho at mga polisiya at programang makapagpatigil o makapagpabagal sa mga tanggalan ng mga manggagawa o pagsasara ng mga kumpanya, at sa tuluyang makapagpabukas sa ekonomiya, Villanueva said in a statement.

“Inuulit po natin na ang pagbubukas sa ekonomiya at pagpapatigil sa mga pagsasara o tanggalan sa mga kumpanya ay nakasalalay sa pagkontrol sa COVID19, kaya ang pagpapatupad ng mandatory regular, random testing sa mga workplace ay napakahalaga dahil dito madaling kumalat ang COVID-19. Maliban sa pagpapatupad ng minimum health standards, kailangan rin pong matutukan kung mayroong mga asymptomatic sa mga lugar-paggawa upang sila ay kaagad ma-isolate at hindi makahawa sa iba,” he added.

The cost of regular, random testing—where different workers take COVID-19 tests on a weekly basis—could have been easily shouldered by PhilHealth, but corruption issues in the state health insurer are contributing to the depletion of its funds, the lawmaker lamented.

“Mahalaga po talaga na matunton ang ugat ng problema sa PhilHealth dahil tuwing may nawawalang pondo, nababawasan ang kakayahan ng ating gobyerno na gastusan ang mga pangangailangan ng ating mga kababayan, tulad na lang po ng pagpapatupad ng regular, random testing sa mga lugar-paggawa,” pointed out Villanueva, chair of the Senate labor committee.

Villanueva also asked the employers to pay the correct separation benefits, and for the DOLE to ensure compliance with the Labor Code, which provides separation pay of one month pay or one-half month pay for every year of service whichever is higher.

Reacting to the reported mandatory use of face shields in workplaces, Villanueva asked DOLE to first assess the compliance with the prevailing COVID-19 prevention measures, before considering to add new guidelines such as making face shields mandatory.

Actual inspections must continue so that inspectors can see whether there is adequate ventilation in the workplace. Studies have shown that adequate ventilation helps minimize the spread of the virus.

In addition, Villanueva also urged the DTI and the Bureau of Internal Revenue to encourage, rather than hamper, entrepreneurship by simplifying the requirements for business registration, tax filing and payments, among others.