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Note of Gratitude: Melinda pens a thank you note to DOLE Laguna for prompt action.

Being diagnosed and operated on for a sickness is bad enough. But failing to get the benefit mandated by a law is worse. Such is the case of Melinda (name changed for confidentiality) an employee of a manufacturing firm in Laguna Technopark Biñan, Laguna.

Diagnosed with endometrial cyst, she had an operation and filed for a special leave benefit with her company. Instead of granting her benefit under the Magna Carta for Women law, her company refused and insisted that her condition is not included under the benefit.

The Special Leave Benefit for Women is mandated according to Section 18 of Republic Act 9710 which grants a maximum of leave of two months for women who undergo operation for gynecological disorders

One could only imagine how depressed and angry she was when she leaned about it. It is frustrating to be deprived of a benefit one deserves. Putting her frustrations away, she summoned the courage and dialed 8888 for the Citizens Complaint Hotline.

In her call, she laid out her complaint against their company:

“Ang reklamo ko ay tungkol sa aming company. Supposedly ay makaka-receive dapat ako ng Magna carta na two (2) moths salary. Ako ay may endometrial cyst na nasa labas ng aking matris. Noong July 2019 ay naoperahan na naman ako at nailabas kon na ito, Ang problema ay ang sinasabi ng company naming na hidi raw covered ng Magna /carta ang sakit ko dahil wala daW ito sa list. Ang sabi naman ng nurse naming ay gynecological naman daw talaga ang sakit ko kaya covered daw ako ng Magna Carta. Hindi kino konsidera ng company ko dahil nasa labas ng matris ko iyong endometrium cyst ko. Sana ay matulungan niyo ako sa aking problema.”

Controlling her emotions, she hung up the phone and breathed a sigh of relief. She closed her eyes for a minute and hoped for the best.

Signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte on 14 October 2016, Executive Order No. 6 created a Public Complaints Hotline involving all agencies of the government.

Pursuant to Section 5 of Executive Order No. 6 which states that “a citizen’s concern lodged through any of the communication channels shall have a concrete and specific action within 72 hours from receipt of the concern by the proper government agency or instrumentality”, Melinda’s complaint was forwarded immediately to the Department of Labor and Employment.

The 8888 Citizens Hotline focal person for DOLE laguna, Senior Labor and Employment Officer, Herbert Matre immediately reached Melinda and inquired about her compliant.

Upon learning of the call by DOLE Laguna, the company sent a representative on the same day to the DOLE Laguna Provincial Office.

The representative explained that according to their company doctor, the operation was in the abdominal wall which is not in the list of gynecological disorders under the law; and hence, not covered under the special leave benefit.

She was advised that the list in the Magna Carta for SLB is not exclusive and that only competent physician who in the case is an Obstetrics Gynecologist can determine whether or not it is a Gynecological Disorder. To settle the issue, the company then agreed that it will grant the benefit provided that the Obstetrics and Gynecologist (OB) doctor of Melinda will issue a certification.

Like what she hoped for, Melinda’s plight took a happy turn. She felt so elated on August 24, 2019 when she received a check from her company amounting to Php61, 408.00 representing payment for her special leave benefit. As appreciation for the help extended, she wrote a thank you note to DOLE Laguna headed by Provincial Director Guido R. Recio. She can’t imagine that her issue was settled with just one phone call.

The happy ending to Melinda’s plight is no surprise to DOLE IV-A Regional Director Henry John S. Jalbuena . According to him, “Our Office is the hero of workers on a daily basis…our hardworking frontline personnel see to it that the work-related issues and complaints are acted upon.”

Taking Melinda’s story in hindsight, Assistant Regional Director Atty. Nepomuceno A. Leaño II mused that “while Melinda’s medical condition was treated by a medical doctor, our office cured the epidemic of non- payment of special leave benefits”


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