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Roberto used to be a delivery rider for a fast food chain located in Calamba, Laguna before the national public health emergency began in March. The entire island of Luzon was placed under enhanced and later on general community quarantine which has shut down businesses displacing hundreds of workers.

When DOLE Laguna opened its doors by June 2020, Provincial Director Guido R. Recio was at the forefront in providing core services whether online or walk-in as numerous programs, processes and proceedings were suspended under DOLE Department Order 213 series of 2020 issued on May 5 2020. This included the filing for request for assistance under SENA (Single –Entry Approach).

Roberto was one of the few workers visiting the office to seek help. He informed the DOLE SENA Desk Officer that he badly needed his last pay since he has no more money to support himself. In his own words, he lamented:

“Survivor mode na ako sir kasi wala naman akong kamag anak dito sa Laguna. Sayang din ang huling sahod Ko. Halos dalawang buwan na po akong nakikiusap sa kanila pero lagi sinasabi ng coordinator ko mag report daw ako sa Manila para makuha ko! Pano naman yun sir? Wala naman akong masakyan saka may asthma ako”.

On further query, he admitted that he went AWOL before the lockdown. He nervously sat in silence and waited. Only one thought circled in his mind. Can DOLE help him claim his last pay?

The SENA Desk Officer then called up his coordinator and convinced the management to release the last pay and other benefits of Roberto on humanitarian grounds. The management agreed on the condition that Roberto will file his clearance.

The dread in Roberto’s face disappeared upon hearing the good news. The coordinator agreed to meet Roberto the next day near his place for filing of his clearance. In less than an hour, the predicament of Roberto troubling him for more than two months was finally resolved. He was elated that DOLE LAGUNA through SENA facilitated the release.

Provincial Director Recio explained that DOLE Laguna has been continuously receiving complaints in spite of the suspension of SENA mediation proceedings, and relating:

“We would immediately call up the management for a representative to air its side on the issue raised by the worker. From there, the officer on case will determine genuine issues and work out a settlement for both parties. SENA or not, we strive to resolve problems or issues of workers amidst the pandemic.”

He further exclaimed:

“Providing frontline services has been a challenge in the wake of the pandemic. “We have to shift to a virtual platform to serve. DOLE Laguna employees had to be provided with shuttle service while some are billeted at the office. We have likewise installed transparent plastic barriers to protect clients and staff.”

He went on to say that under the direction of Regional Director Henry John S. Jalbuena DOLE Laguna, labor inspectors are checking on establishments to ensure compliance with safety and health measures to prevent and control Covid-19 transmission.

This dedication to service of DOLE Laguna ensures that the rights and welfare of workers like Roberto will be protected and promoted in good and bad times.

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