(File photo)

MANILA – As the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic took a toll on economies and greatly displaced many industries and workers, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has achieved significant accomplishments in assisting local and overseas workers in coping with the challenges of the new normal.

Citing the latest DOLE data released on Monday, Secretary Silvestre Bello IIII said the agency has further intensified the implementation of its three major social amelioration programs to help affected workers recover from the pandemic.

Covid-19 response

Bello said a total of PHP26.1 billion worth of social protection assistance under the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD), Covid-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP), and Abot-Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) benefitted 4.707 million distressed formal and informal workers, including overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Under TUPAD, 1.993 million workers from the informal sector were hired thru an emergency employment program amounting to PHP9.62 billion.

The TUPAD is a community-based amelioration program that provides jobs for displaced, underemployed, and seasonal workers for a minimum period of 10 days to a maximum of 30 days, depending on the nature of work to be performed.

They are paid based on the prevailing minimum wage in the region and will be received through a money remittance service provider.

For CAMP, a total of 2.173 million workers from private establishments, including those in the tourism industry and the education sector, received financial assistance amounting to PHP10.894 billion.

Each employee received a one-time cash assistance of PHP5,000.

A total of 540,876 displaced OFWs benefitted from the AKAP Program with a budget of PHP5.487 billion. The workers received a one-time financial aid of PHP10,000 (US$200).

Looking after OFWs

Bello said government services also served a significant number of Filipinos working abroad.

He reported that some 759,158 OFWs were served by the 18 One Stop Shop Service Centers nationwide of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

The 39 Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) assisted 1.522 million OFWs onsite.

As of December 15, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) has repatriated 837,080 OFWs. It also provided scholarships to OFW dependents totaling 95,387 through its Tabang OFW and scholarships under the Emergency Subsidy Program (ESP).

The DOLE added that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed Executive Order 154 on December 7, hastening the completion of the OFW Hospital that will cater primarily to the health care needs of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) and qualified dependents.

Also this year, it signed two bilateral labor agreements with two countries, namely: Romania and the United Arab Emirates to set standards and conditions on employment of OFWs.

Bello also assumed the chairmanship of the government group at the International Labor Organization, the first non-regular member country of the ILO to take such a role.

On the other hand, 9,610 seafarers were trained with maritime-related courses, while 102,661 graduates of professional courses were administered with licensure examinations.

Meanwhile, the DOLE has also inspected 90,327 establishments covering 3.692 million workers to enforce labor laws and occupational safety and health standards.

It also certified 900 establishments with Safety Seals and trained 26,295 workers on occupational safety and health standards as of December 15.

Employment opportunities

The DOLE has facilitated the employment of 1.66 million jobseekers through the Public Employment Service Offices (PESOs) and assisted 188,782 youth through the Special Program for Employment of Students, Government Internship Program, and JobStart Philippines. Provided labor education and workers’ organization and development program to 836,612 beneficiaries.

At the same time, it also resolved 72,040 cases benefitting 141,143 workers resulting in PHP8.551 billion monetary awards.

The DOLE also provided training to 14,099 establishments benefitting 14,988 employers and workers to stimulate the competitiveness of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

To continuously aid the vulnerable sectors from the effects of the pandemic, the Department provided livelihood assistance to 66,186 beneficiaries; and emergency employment to 2.143 million beneficiaries to help workers particularly those needing income support during this pandemic.

Bello, meanwhile, said more countries such as Canada, Israel, and Germany are offering job opportunities for Filipino workers.

Among the available jobs in these countries are chefs in restaurants and nurses in healthcare institutions. (PNA)