Mandatory registration of stranded, displaced workers proposed

A LAWMAKER has filed a bill mandating the registration of all stranded and displaced workers.

Construction Workers Solidarity (CWS) party-list Rep. Romeo S. Momo Sr., senior vice-chairman of the House committee on public works and highways, said his proposal will help address the plight of distressed workers and expedite government aid in times of calamities or pandemics like coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19).

Under his House Bill (HB) 6813, Momo proposed to require employers to submit with the barangay or local government unit that has territorial jurisdiction over their businesses, as well as to the field or regional office of the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE), a list of all its workers within five days from the declaration of lockdown or community quarantine during a calamity or pandemic.

With the proper and necessary registration, Momo said both local and national government units will be guided on how to address in systematic manner the providing of assistance and implement effectively their programs and other forms of aid or support, including the social amelioration program, for the affected workers covering all operation and undertakings in any labor industry.

"All throughout the Enhanced Community Quarantine (E'CQ) period up to Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) period and even during the General Community Quarantine (GCQ), there were news reports about construction workers and other members of the labor force being abandoned by their employers and left stranded in their construction or work sites not only without pay, but also without food and other basic necessities," Momo stressed.

The CWS party-list lawmaker pointed out that even though stranded workers are covered by the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) of the DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development), clearly, "some still fall through the cracks and remain unassisted and because of the direness of the situation, many of the stranded workers, majority of which are construction workers, were forced to beg or use social media to call for donations and relief goods."

"The fact that many of them hail from other provinces and are not voters and residents in the areas of their work site somehow denied them of the eligibility to receive monetary assistance precisely because Local Government Units have no allocated budget fund for them,” said Momo.

"Worse, there were also reports of employers who either chose or fail to register their workers under the DoLE’s COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) due to many documentary requirements and difficulty in mobility due to the lockdown," he further stated.

Under the bill, the barangay, city or municipality, and the DoLE, shall implement necessary procedures to verify the legitimacy and correctness of the list of workers submitted by the employers.

But with or without the list required on the employer, HB No. 6813 directs all local government units, during times of lockdown or community quarantine due to calamities and pandemics, to account and register all stranded and displaced workers in their respective areas of responsibility.

"For the Barangays, the list must be submitted to their respective Cities or Municipalities within 7 days from the declaration of community quarantine or lockdown; while the concerned City or Municipality must, in turn, submit to the Regional Offices of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) within 7 days from receipt of the said list from the Barangays," the proposed bill stated.

Momo said that upon receipt of the list from the municipality or city, the DoLE or the DSWD or both, shall include the names of the stranded or displaced workers in the list of beneficiaries to be given assistance through its social amelioration programs or any similar program with the end view of helping the stranded or displaced workers during the period of quarantine or lockdown.

Meanwhile, Rep. Momo reminded that included in the bill is the imposition of the penalty for those who will violate any of its provisions, particularly a fine of Five Thousand Pesos ( P5,000.00) to Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00) or imprisonment of not more than one (1) month, or both at the discretion of the court.

"But this is without prejudice to any administrative, civil or criminal liability under the Labor Code of the Philippines, Republic Act 6713 (The Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees) and Republic Act No. 3019 (The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) and other codes and special laws, any person partnership, corporation or any public officer or employee who violates any provisions of the bill once it is enacted into law," Momo explained.