Dole sends inspectors to Apo; affected workers hold protest

By: Futch Anthony Inso and Rosalie O. Abatayo November 14,2018 - 11:47 PM

APO WORKERS/NOV 14,2018: Naga City Mayor Christine Chiong (back to camera) talks to temporary lay off of Apo Cement who ask the LGU to a prove the hazard reduction plan so they will continue their work. (CDN PHOTO/TONEE DESPOJO)

THE Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE-7) deployed a labor inspector yesterday to Naga City, after Apo Cement Corporation announced its intent to temporarily layoff 30 percent of its regular employees and reduce its contractual workers by up to 40 percent.

DOLE-7 information officer Luchel Taniza, told CDN that the labor inspector was tasked to verify and conduct a profile of the workers in the company.

“Actually we already received an established report from Apo and then, so far 64 workers were affected. We just received it now (yesterday),” Taniza said.

She said Apo only announced a suspension of work, not a termination of workers.

“This is not termination but suspension of work, because their works were suspended. What is being reported to us is suspended works. So perhaps, although, it’s still very early for us to say if they can still return that is why we are conducting an investigation,” she added.

Meanwhile, around 200 employees of Apo Cement staged a protest rally in front of the Naga City Hall yesterday calling on the city government to help the company get a clearance to resume operations so that they would not lose their jobs.

Apo had served a notice to the employees that they would be laid off effective December 13.

“Ang impact gyod, number one is on employees as breadwinner sa ilang mga pamilya nga mawad-an og income, makulban sa kaldero. In fact, grabe ang yangungo karon sa mga pamilya. Wala may mahimo kay tagilid man gyod ang kumpanya,” said Engr. Jenevy Patalinghug, environment officer of Apo Cement.
(Employees who are the breadwinners in the family would lose their income.)

“Sayon pag-ingon nga mangita og lain trabaho pero ang realidad lisod mangitag trabaho karon. Wa ka kapangandam. Usa pod sa factor kay ang age limit. Most of them 40 plus na, sa uban dili na hireable,” Patalinghug added.
(Its easy to say look for another job but the reality is it will be hard to find a job now. There is an age limit. Most of them are aged 40 and above and no longer hireable. )

Hazard Reduction Plan
The protesting workers also asked that the appropriate government agency approve their Hazard Reduction Plan so they can start removing the debris at the landslide area that makes ground zero a critical zone.

If the Hazard Reduction Plan would be implemented, there is a chance that quarry operations will be allowed to resume as the hazard plan will address the risks in the 80.12-hectare landslide area.

“We cannot operate because the area is still considered critical. But we foresee that if the hazard reduction plan is approved by whichever agency so that the area can be declared as safe, we can also go back to work,” Patalinghug said in Cebuano.

Lay off
Taniza said that since all quarry operations of Apo Land and Quarry Corp. (ALQC) have been suspended because of the landslide in Barangay Tinaan, Naga City last September 20, the company was forced to implement a temporary lay off of some of their workers.

Naga City Mayor Kristine Vanessa Chiong, who came out to address the rallyists, said her hands are tied by the cease and desist order against the quarry operations.

Chiong said that while she empathized with the workers, it is not for her to lift the suspension order nor to approve the hazard reduction plan.

“Ato nang gibisita last week ang tanan nga tan-aw nato kinahanglan nga bisitahon para ma-aksyonan ni. Karon ingon na pod nga kinahanglan i-adto sa National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC). Honestly, hasta ako naghuwat gihapon uban ninyo ug mao na ang akong mga frustration pod karon,” Chiong explained to the rallyists.
(I inspected all the areas that needed to be visited so that we can take action. But they are saying that we need to endorse this to the NDRRMC. I, like you, am also waiting and those are my frustrations.)

Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu ordered the suspension of all quarry operations of ALQC and canceled its Environmental Compliance Certificate a day after the landslide.

Last Friday the Regional Trial Court in Naga City has also issued a temporary environmental protection order (TEPO), in response to the prayer contained in the P4.5 billion environmental case filed against ALQC, Apo Cement, Cemex Philippines, the Naga City government, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB-7) and Cebu province.

Taniza meanwhile, gave an assurance that DOLE will implement interventions to alleviate the plight of the affected workers, ‘like for example, providing them with emergency employment, or prioritizing them for livelihood.’

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