Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz, who is the chairperson of the Sugar Tripartite Council, or STC, yesterday announced that the Council has unanimously approved the release and use of P14 million in Sugar Amelioration Program (SAP) Fund for the emergency employment of sugar workers affected by Typhoon Yolanda in Regions 6, 7, and 8.
The approval of the emergency employment program came in the form of a resolution unanimously-approved by members of the STC during its meeting last week at the DOLE in Intramuros, led by Secretary Baldoz, and attended by Sugar Regulatory Administration Deputy Administrator Aida F. Ignacio, of the government sector; Attys. Orlando Aquino and Atty. Augusto Araneta, Jr., representing the planter sector; Atty. Custodio Parlade and Renato Cabati, representing the miller sector; Atty. Zoilo Dela Cruz and Melliemoore Saycon, representing the field workers; and Gerard Seno and Rupert Bragado, representing the mill workers.
“I am happy that the Sugar Tripartite Council is fast to respond to the need for sugar workers to be able to stand up on their own again. The emergency employment program is a post-calamity strategy that provides income support to calamity victims,” Baldoz said.
The labor and employment chief said the P14 million will be sourced out from the Socio-economic Project Fund (SEPF) of the SAP–P4 million–and the balance of P10 million from the Sugar Workers’ Fund.
“The release of the funds shall be in accordance with the provisions of DOLE D.O. 35-02, DOLE guidelines in the implementation of the emergency employment program, and prescribed government accounting and auditing procedures,” Baldoz explained.
Resolution No. 8, Series of 2013 states that the typhoon’s wrath did not spare the sugar milling districts in Regions 6 (Lopez, Sagay, and Victorias); 7 (Bogo-Medellin), and 8 (HISUMCO-Kananga), destroying sugar mills, sugarcane crops, infrastructure, and houses of sugar workers.
“The employment/livelihood and income of sugar workers in these affected sugar milling districts have suffered because of the stoppage in milling operation and farming activities, not to mention losses in personal properties of the workers,” it said.
The STC said it has found the emergency employment project proposed by the DOLE’s Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns acceptable as it will provide affected sugar workers with alternative employment and income to meet their basic food requirements during the calamity situation.
“It will also assist in the immediate restoration and rehabilitation of affected sugarcane milling districts, and support the national government in its implementation of its rehabilitation plan for the areas damaged by the typhoon,” the STC resolution further stated.
The SAP is provided for under P. D. No. 621 and enhanced under R. A. No. 6982, which expands sugar workers’ benefits and established the tripartite mechanism for planters, millers, and workers to participate in policy decision-making in the sugar industry and seeks to uplift the living conditions of sugar workers and their families.
Administered by the DOLE, the SAP is financed by a lien of P10 collected per picul (or 63.25 kilograms) of sugar produced. The 80 percent portion of the lien is distributed as cash bonus to workers, while the 20 percent is utilized for the implementation of related socio-economic programs such as maternity benefit, death benefit, and socio-economic project assistance.