The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Wednesday said it is now keeping a close eye on the possible increase of jobless workers in Mindanao after it was devastated by strong earthquakes last month.
In an interview, Labor Assistant Secretary Benjo M. Benavidez told the BusinessMirror they are anticipating a rise in permanently displaced workers in Mindanao following the strong tremors that left many buildings in Mindanao severely damaged.
“There is a possibility some workers will permanently lose their jobs, especially after inspection of their workplace reveal it is no longer fit for occupancy,” Benavidez said.
He said DOLE’s labor inspectors are now coordinating with local government units and other government agencies to check the structural integrity of workplaces affected by the earthquakes.
“The operations of the offices will remain suspended until they are inspected…we don’t want work to resume in a building only for it to collapse later,” Benavidez said.
“We hope to complete this as soon as possible,” he added.
Last week, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported at least 2,704 infrastructures were damaged in five regions in Mindanao due to the strong successive earthquakes on October 16, 29 and 31.
As of Wednesday, Bureau of Local Employment Director Dominique R. Tutay said they are still waiting for reports of any retrenched worker because of the earthquake.
Trade Union Congress of the Philippines President Raymond Mendoza said they already identified at least 1,545 of their members alone, who were displaced because of the earthquakes in Mindanao.
“But we have yet to determine if they are displaced permanently or only temporarily,” Mendoza told the BusinessMirror in an interview.
He said they already mobilized their members to extend aid to the affected members.
For his part, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) Chairman George T. Barcelon said they have yet to get any report from their members, who were forced to retrench their employees due to the earthquakes.
“Our members are reporting effects in their communities but not so much on their business,” Barcelon said in a phone interview.
“So we are now soliciting funds among PCCI [member-companies] to send through our Davao chamber,” he added.
Barcelon attributed the continuous operations of their members firms, which are mostly micro, small, and medium enterprises, in quake-stricken Mindanao to the availability of power and undamaged roads there.
“The main roads in the affected areas suffered no significant damage [from the tremors]. [But] this was not the case logistics of businesses there would have really suffered,” Barcelon said.
He, however, shared DOLE’s view that some companies with heavily damaged offices, would have to shut down, at the moment at least.
“There are some offices, particularly the old ones, which were damaged and will no longer be safe to work in. These must be demolished causing displacement,” Barcelon said.