President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the release of P448 million to the labor department for its assistance program to cushion the impact on close to 18,000 formal workers following the temporary closure of Boracay island.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III over the weekend said the cash assistance represents 50 percent of the workers’ minimum daily wage to be paid to registered employees for the duration of the suspension of their work in the island.

“This is part of the mitigation measures that DOLE has put in place through our Boracay Emergency Employment Program (BEEP) for the affected workers in the area,” Bello said.

The Bureau of Local Employment (BLE) said a total of 18,206 formal workers and 3,954 informal sector workers had been profiled as of May 1.

Under the labor department’s Adjustment Measures Program (AMP), financial support equivalent to 50 percent of the prevailing minimum wage in the region will be provided to 17,735 affected formal sector workers for six months or from May to October 2018 for a total of P448 million.

A separate emergency employment program is also available to informal sector workers with an allocation of P52 million.

To benefit under the program are transport workers, haulers, vendors, and indigenous peoples who will be temporarily employed for 30 days to do coastal clean-up, as well as clearing and reforestation in mangrove sites in Boracay Island.

The labor department has also allocated 200 slots for the youth who might be interested in the Government Internship Program (GIP).

They will be trained in government service for six months with stipend equivalent to 75 percent of the prevailing minimum wage in the region. The budget for GIP is at P6.5 million.

To fast-track the meeting of employers and jobseekers, the labor department has also conducted a job fair in Kalibo on April 26 and another one is set in Malay on May 18.

Meanwhile, under the Livelihood Assistance Program, a total of 200 micro-entrepreneurs are targeted to benefit from training on basic entrepreneurship development, business planning, business work improvement, and production skills, as well as livelihood assistance in anticipation of the revival of their microenterprises after the island’s rehabilitation.

Bello has issued an advisory warning establishment in Boracay against terminating their employees.

He notified employers that they may only “observe the principle of No Work, No Pay, or require the employees to go on forced leave by utilizing their leave credits if any.”

As such, employees are expected to be called back to work upon the lifting of the temporary closure of Boracay Island, he added.

Another advisory was later issued which provides the guidelines on the adoption of alternative work arrangements such as temporary transfer of employees to other branch or outlet; temporary assignment of employees to other functions or positions; retention of workers for necessary upkeep and maintenance, or renovation of the business establishment of the employer; reduction of workdays; rotation of workers within the workweek; and forced leave, utilising their leave credits, if there are any.

DOLE works closely with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Department of Tourism (DOT), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and Department of Agriculture (DA) to address the needs of affected workers.

As the lead agency of BEEP, the labor department provides interventions such as financial support for formal sector workers, emergency employment for informal sector workers, opportunities for government internship, job facilitation through the conduct of job fairs, and social preparation training for micro-entrepreneurs.

END/ aldm

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