DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The regional office of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE-XI) revealed Friday that the first batch of workers who applied for its COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program can withdraw the 5,000-peso cash assistance starting next week.
“Rest assured, we will do our best to speed up the work so that we can assist as soon as possible,” said Raymundo Agravante, DoLE Regional Director, in a press release Thursday.
For the first batch, a total of Php 9,945,000 was disbursed to 130 establishments with 1,989 workers. The application for the second batch was approved with Php 20,000,000 for 279 establishments with 4,000 workers.
The cash grant is to be given to employees in the formal sector who were affected by the flexible work arrangement and temporary closure of workplaces due to COVID-19.
“To receive the financial assistance, DoLE will send it through money remittance,” Agravante said.
‘Prone to abuse’
But, the labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) expressed concern on DOLE’s process of releasing cash assistance.
Since it will be sent through money remittance, reference numbers will be given by DoLE to the employers, who, in turn, will give it to their employees for collection.
It said this would be prone to a number of abuses by some employers.
“Employers may substitute such reference numbers for cash advances owed to them by an employee. Other employers might also discriminate workers perceived to be disloyal to the company,” said KMU-SMR spokesperson Paul John Dizon.
The group suggested that the reference numbers shall be given directly to the workers, and DoLE will just notify the employers.
Help in the time of quarantine
KMU shared that through its Facebook page and recently launched mobile hotlines, they already received several reports from affected workers who haven’t received the Php 5,000 assistance yet.
They initially catered 75 workers, 36 of whom reported that their employers already submitted the requirements to DOLE.
However, until now, they didn’t receive any assistance. Thirty-nine workers reported that their employers didn’t submit to DOLE for various reasons.
“One situation reported to us by the worker is that perhaps the reason why their employer didn’t report to DOLE is that he’s afraid of being discovered for underpayment of wages and non-payment of statutory benefits. There are also situations where their employer just didn’t care enough to file establishment reports on behalf of their workers,” Dizon said.
KMU-SMR has urged DOLE to immediately act on the matter to help workers especially in the time of community quarantine which was imposed in the cities of Davao and Tagum since March 15, after the first case of COVID-19 was recorded. (davaotoday.com)