436 workers get P8-M cash aid from DOLE

Some 436 workers in the Bicol region were able to claim their monetary benefits in the amount of P8,080,675.48 in the first quarter of 2021 through the assistance of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Regional Office V (Bicol) based on the 2021 First Quarter Report of the DOLE Technical Support and Services Division.


Ma. Zenaida A. Angara-Campita, DOLE regional director, said that it is the result of the dedication and efforts of the Single Entry Approach Desk Officers (SEADOs) that led to the settlement of 309 out of the 373 request for assistance (RFA) handled from January to March 2021 despite the challenges brought by the pandemic.


“We cannot be negated by fear and anxiety of COVID-19 because it is in these times of pandemic that our service as public servants are most needed, especially to those who have labor disputes in their workplaces and lost jobs,” she expressed.


Camarines Sur Provincial Field Office (PFO) accounts for the biggest bulk of settled cases in the first quarter with 135 settled RFAs, which led to the awarding of P2,530,944.47 in monetary benefits to 167 workers. While Albay PFO has the highest monetary awards to 135 workers in the amount of P2,958,321.56.


The report also shows that Sorsogon has awarded P1,711,423.42 to 92 workers; Camarines Norte with P676,947.47 to 28 workers; Catanduanes with P104,038 to 10 workers; Masbate with P15,000 to 1 worker and TSSD with P84,000 to 3 workers.


“We were able to hit 95% disposition rate and 83% settlement rate regionwide for this quarter,” Campita stressed.


She added that the average duration to settle RFAs last only for 6 days, while the average duration to dispose RFAs was computed at 8 days.


The RFAs filed by the workers constitute complaints on delay in the release of final pay, non-payment of 13th month and separation pays, underpayment of wages, non-payment of overtime, holiday, night shift differential, non-coverage to social protection benefits such as SSS, PhilHealth, and Pag-IBIG; and unauthorized cash bond deductions.


“We really tried to be of help to those aggrieved workers to claim what is due them amidst this pandemic,” said Athena Florida, DOLE Cam Sur SEADO.


The aggrieved employees who filed RFAs came from various sectors in Bicol such as security agencies, wholesale and retail trading, accommodation and food service activities, construction, and education.


“We hope to achieve 100 percent settlement and disposition rate towards the end of the year. Above all, it is our mandate to promote industrial peace in workplaces and ensure full respect of labor standards and the fundamental principles and rights at work,” Campita said.


Meanwhile, Herra D. Habla, SEADO in Sorsogon said that with the online conciliation-mediation under SENA, amicable settling disputes can nonetheless be carried out without deferment amidst pandemic.


“Even during the earlier period and even at the apex of pandemic last year, fright in COVID-19 didn’t impede us from implementing this program because of the calling of the volume of labor issues mainly on separation, which was an outturn of pandemic.”


Campita added: “Let’s turn these challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic into an opportunity for devising strategies to deliver the services to our clients while ensuring our safety and health.”