Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III. (PNA file photo)

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Tuesday has adopted measures to fast-track the grant of assistance to workers affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic following the extension of the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon until April 30.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said among these measures is the relaxing of requirements from employers who are applying for COVID Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP).

“We are no longer strictly requiring the submission of the company payroll in the establishment report. Any proof of payment of salaries and wages will be sufficient compliance with the requirement,” he said in a statement.

Bello said DOLE field offices will continue processing establishment reports even during the Holy Week to speed up the processing of assistance.

“We have entered into an agreement with Land Bank for the expeditious release and remittance of funds through their branches and automated teller machines (ATMs) nationwide,” he added.

He also guaranteed “that no information given by employers in the submission of establishment reports will be disclosed to the public or used against them in the future”.

“This is to encourage more companies to submit their reports so that the government will be able to provide assistance to their workers and employees,” he said.

Bello said they are awaiting the approval of President Rodrigo Duterte of the recommendation of the Inter Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) for more funding for their assistance program for affected Filipino workers.

“(The) PHP10,000 assistance to affected OFWs, documented or undocumented, who are stranded overseas or have been repatriated under the DOLE Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) program. The Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) can now start processing the assistance,” he said.

He said they also seeking more funds for the Tulong Panghanapbuhay para SA Displaced/Disadvantaged Workers-Barangay Ko Bahay Ko (TUPAD #BKBK) for the informal sector workers and the CAMP which provides a one-time PHP5,000 assistance to workers in the formal economy.

“We hope to aid all 715,000 workers whose employers numbering close to 30,000 had applied for financial assistance as of today under CAMP. We are ready to process more requests if more establishments will submit their reports,” he said.

With additional funding, he said the TUPAD #BKBK will be able to finance the emergency work of 700,000 in the informal sector.

“So far, these two programs already benefited 440,000 workers to date. In the DOLE AKAP program, we are looking at providing assistance to about 150,000 OFWs,” Bello added. (PNA)