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Interior Secretary Eduardo Interior Secretary Eduardo Año urged construction companies to give nearby temporary shelter to their manual laborers involved in infrastructure projects of the government under the “Build, Build, Build” program.

Año’s remark comes after President Rodrigo Duterte issued resolution 11 which places Metro Manila in a month-long “community quarantine” starting Sunday (March 15) to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in the country.

He said giving construction workers a place to stay near their work areas could minimize the risk of catching the highly-contagious disease.

“Iyong mga construction workers ano, iyong mga—may Build, Build, Build tayo… baka puwedeng accommodate natin iyong mga workers natin, diyan na lang muna matulog para wala na tayong movement at hindi na tayo magkaroon ng unnecessary paggalaw (Our construction workers involved in Build, Build, Build…maybe they can be accommodated, they can just sleep there so that we can prevent unnecessary movement),” he said in an interview over DZMM on Saturday.

It was not clear what kind of setup Año wanted employers to provide to their construction workers.

As for other workers, Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya echoed Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez’s earlier suggestion to stay with their relatives or rent rooms or houses in Metro Manila for the meantime.

“Baka puwede na silang tumira muna sa Metro Manila kung dito sila nagtatrabaho. Makitira muna sa mga kaibigan o sa mga kamag-anak para hindi na po sila makadagdag sa pila at inconvenience sa mga checkpoint natin (Maybe they temporarily stay in Metro Manila if they work here.

Stay over their friends’ or family’s home so they won’t add to the long lines and inconvenience at our checkpoints),” he said.

Earlier, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said government agencies providing front-line services will remain open, along with banks and retail, service and similar establishments, during the community quarantine-period.

He emphasized the importance of having government transactions continue operation.

“Skeletal staffing patterns will be put in place and telecommuting and tele-work may also be considered in order to ensure that public services continue uninterrupted while these measures are in place. Again, iyong frontline services po ng gobyerno ay tuluy-tuloy pa rin po (in the government will continue),” he said in a Laging Handa press briefing last Friday (March 13).

He also urged private companies and establishments to adopt flexible work schedules to help prevent the spread of the disease following a steady rise in cases especially in Metro Manila.

“The DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) has also recommended that manufacturing, retail and service establishments as well as banks remain open to the public on the condition that they undertake the various precautions advised by the Department of Health,” he said.

Employment benefits

Año also urged private sector employers to provide their workers with all benefits including leaves and if possible, release their 13-month pay early.

“Tinatawagan natin iyong mga employers na kung ano iyong mga benepisyong puwedeng maibigay, mga maximum vacation leave, sick leave; kung puwedeng huwag na silang magtrabaho, ibigay ninyo iyong 13th month pay o kaya iyong work scheduling flexibility (We call on employers to give whatever benefits they can give, maximum vacation leave, sick leave; if they can allow them not to work, give them their 13th month pay or a flexible working schedule,” he said.

Under Presidential Decree 851, all rank-and-file employees in the private sector are entitled to receive the 13th-month pay on or before December 24 of the year.

However, an employer may give to his or her employees one-half of the 13th month pay before the opening of the regular school year and the remaining half on or before December 24 of every year.

The mandatory benefit pay should not be less than one-twelfth of the total salary earned by an employee within a calendar year, regardless of the nature of employment.

The decree provides that every covered employer is required to make a report of compliance to the Department of Labor and Employment regional office not later than January 15 of each year. (PNA)

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