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CRY FOR HELP. A father’s love for his sick baby led him to DOLE Laguna where he sought help for the reimbursement of hospital expenses through the Single Entry Approach (SENA) conciliation/mediation.

There is no question that a father will do anything for his child. This happened to Mr. CJ*, an employee of a big alcoholic beverage manufacturer with a plant in Laguna. He was overcome with joy when his baby was born. But joy turned to sorrow when his baby was diagnosed with a serious illness that needed immediate medical attention.

Like most companies nowadays, CJ enjoys a health care benefit which is extended to his children. This comes in handy every time they need a visit to any clinic or hospital. In the process of enrolling his child, his baby got sick.

Wanting the best care for his child, he went to a well-known hospital in Laguna thinking that he will not worry about the hospitalization.

A prudent father that he is, he asked the company’s HRD representative if the health card had been approved before his child was wheeled to the Intensive Care Unit. He got a reply in the affirmative that the company is only waiting for the card number of his baby. Wasting no time, he agreed to bring his child to the ICU.

In God’s grace, his baby was saved from serious illness. However, he was surprised when the health card company refused to pay the bills on account of a technicality. CJ was devastated with his mind flooded with a lot of questions. There was a nagging question in his mind that won’t go away, though.

“Where will he get the big amount of money to pay for the bills and release of the baby from the hospital?” He told himself.

As a good father, he thought of ways to raise the money. He asked for help from co-workers and friends. He even solicited financial assistance from the local government.

“Sinanla ko na rin po yun ATM ko mailabas lang yun baby ko,” (I pawned my ATM card to get my child discharged from the hospital) CJ sadly replied on how he pulled it all off.

It was time for CJ to seek answers to his predicament as soon as his baby was released from the hospital. CJ wrote a letter to the company asking why the Health Maintenance organization (HMO) rejected the hospitalization costs of his child. The company initiated a conference on the matter but the meeting was useless with nothing but an apology from the HR representative. He was frustrated since he felt deprived of a company benefit that should have saved him from his financial distress.

“Sorry lang ba ang katapat nun?!!” (Will sorry be enough to rectify all the troubles?) he muttered to himself.

His wary feet led him to the doorsteps of DOLE Laguna. He let out his frustrations and dejections to the Officer on Duty. Senior Labor and Employment Officer Rudyboy R. Sinay empathized with CJ and informed him that the Office can help through the Single Entry Approach (SENA) conciliation-mediation services for labor and employment cases. It was explained to him that SENA is a 30-day conciliation-mediation proceeding to provide a speedy, impartial, inexpensive and accessible settlement services for unresolved issues/complaints arising from employer-employee relations.

Finding an ally in DOLE Laguna, CJ filled out the Request for Assistance form under SENA. He raised the issue of the health care benefit and prayed for the refund of his hospitals bills amounting to P79, 671. 61. SENA Desk Officer (SEADO) Sinay affixed his signature in the request and set the date for two conferences.

It was a tense moment during the first conference on 19 June 2017. Management representatives were adamant and insisted that CJ should follow up his case with the HMO concerned. They argued that they also want an explanation why the health care provider refused to pay for the hospitalization expenses.

In the course of the conference, Mr. Sinay emphasized that although the HMO is to blame for the rejection of medical coverage, still it is a company benefit that should be enjoyed by CJ and his family. It is unfair that CJ himself has to pay for the bills when in the first place it is a company benefit provided by a third party. The initial conference seems to be a deadlock but CJ felt he held a legal ground with the DOLE conciliating his issue with the company.

Before the hearing on 10 July 2017, CJ felt anxious waiting for their conference. He braced himself for the reply of the company imagining how his case would drag on given the reluctance of the company to refund his expenses. He was wrong. The company took to heart the words of Desk Officer Sinay during their last hearing.

CJ was surprised to hear the company representative presenting the check amounting to P79, 671.61 which is the total amount of the bills he paid to save his baby. All that is asked of him were the Official Receipts of his bills in exchange for the check. His problem that tormented him for weeks ended in less than an hour through SENA.

For RD Campita, SENA has never lost its relevance in providing workers with inexpensive assistance as she contended,

“The Single Entry Approach (SENA) conciliation mediation services have been proven effective in bringing about solutions to issues and disputes between employees and employers may it be a simple money claim or complex employment issues as our SENA Desk Officers (SEADOs) are always ready to conciliate.”

Having observed the bulk of clients’ Requests for Assistance through SENA, DOLE Laguna OIC Guido R. Recio added,

“We have a fair share of the complaints from workers against erring employers with Laguna being a manufacturing and industrial hub. The case of CJ is a testament to our dedication in looking after workers’ rights and welfare.”

CJ could not believe that he can now pay off the debts incurred for his sick child. With his financial suffering now over, he will no longer endure sleepless nights, and instead, focus on his job.

He had a huge sigh of relief when the conference ended. His firm handshake to SENA Desk Officer Sinay established his faith and trust in the Department of Labor and Employment.

*this is an actual SENA case filed with DOLE Laguna. Actual names were not revealed to protect the identities of parties involved.



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