CALAPAN, Oriental Mindoro – Some 600 individuals affected by the oil spill from the town of Naujan on Saturday are set to begin a ten-day emergency employment under the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) program.
In an interview on Friday, Rhyme Torres, the TUPAD program focal person here, said efforts to assist displaced workers continue even while only traces of the petroleum contaminants remain on Oriental Mindoro’s beaches.
He said fishermen and others deriving their livelihoods from the sea make up most of the participants in the short-term employment program, but displaced land-based workers are also represented.
Naujan workers taking part in the TUPAD program's latest iteration will be asked to do “light jobs” such as helping clear farm-to-market roads from mud and debris, collecting recyclable materials, and other manual tasks that are not too physically taxing, said Torres.
For their efforts, participating workers will be paid PHP355 per day or PHP 3,550 for the entire ten days, which represents the current minimum wage in Region 4B (Mimaropa).
It was emphasized, however, that the work does not involve helping clean up the oil spill.
“There is nothing more to clean from the shoreline. But the program (TUPAD) continues because the residents here are still on a recovery period,” he said in Filipino.
Torres added that an orientation was held on Friday at Naujan’s Municipal Gymnasium for the 600 participating workers.
“We had our contract signing today, and also they were issued their personal protective equipment to ensure safety during their ten days working for us,” he added.
Meanwhile, Torres said that DOLE 4B wrapped-up in the last week of July a series of livelihood training courses for oil-spill-affected workers in Calapan, and the municipalities of Bulalacao and Mansalay.
He noted that carpentry, plumbing, food processing and motor vehicle driving training courses were offered, and participants were also paid minimum wage for their attendance.
The oil spill problem in Oriental Mindoro began on February 28, when MT Princess Empress capsized off the coast of Naujan, causing its cargo of 800,000 liters of industrial fuel to be released into the sea, quickly spreading to the shoreline of several coastal towns.
DOLE figures indicated that about 27,000 workers lost their jobs as a direct result of the oil spill. (PNA)