Baldoz orders regional official to fast-track livelihood assistance to victims of Zamboanga crisis Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday directed Sisinio Cano, Regional Director of DOLE Regional Office No. 9, to fast-track the delivery of livelihood support and assistance to victims of the week-old armed conflict between the government and a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front. Baldoz issued the order noting that the crisis is ebbing and that Zamboanga City is slowly returning to calm and normalcy. “The DOLE regional office should already be profiling and monitoring workers in the informal and formal sectors who were affected by the crisis, or who may have been displaced from their jobs and occupations, so that appropriate DOLE intervention can be carried out,” Baldoz said. “You are also instructed to convene the Industry Tripartite Councils (ITCs) of the affected industry sectors in Zamboanga City to firm up collaborative efforts towards preserving employment in their sectors,” she said further. The profiling of affected workers is a standard operating procedure of the DOLE after each calamity or emergency, in coordination with the local government units and the Public Employment Service Offices (PESOs) in the region. Baldoz directed Director Cano to work in convergence with the local government and national agencies in the City, such as the DILG, DSWD, DPWH, and DTI, as well as DOLE’s tripartite partners, such as the workers’ organizations, employers’ groups, and industry associations. She said it is necessary that the results of the profiling should provide complete information as to what extent the workers were affected and what are the immediate post-conflict recovery programs and interventions are needed. “We have to prioritize existing livelihoods that need to be rehabilitated. If it is emergency employment that is needed, we will provide this,” she said. The DOLE’s emergency employment program is primarily for workers displaced by man-made or natural calamities, and is meant to provide immediate income support to workers who may be hired for repair or rehabilitation of damaged government buildings, such as health clinics, schools, and government offices, and facilities, such as waterworks, electricity system, irrigation systems, and roads and bridges. As this developed, Director Cano reported to Secretary Baldoz that there is still P4 million fund available under the Bottom-Up Budgeting (BUB) Program earmarked for Zamboanga City that can be utilized for emergency employment. “The city government, through the PESO, need only to request for the BUB funds to be used for the emergency employment program,” Cano said. He estimated that if the beneficiaries are hired to work at a minimum of 15 days, 1,300 workers can benefit, and said the PESO can screen and select the beneficiaries from the list of displaced persons prepared by the City Social Welfare and Development Office and the DSWD. Cano further reported that despite the armed conflict, there is sufficient supply or stock of sardines in Zamboanga City. However, he said no shipment of the product has been made during the past week due to the suspension of sea voyages and the cancellation of commercial air trevel to and from the city. Zamboanga City is the sardines capital of the Philippines. Its 11 canning factories and 12 large fishing companies directly and indirectly employs around 30,000 workers, producing canned sardines for the domestic and international market. END

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