Second of a series, exclusive to SovereignPH.com
About 300 returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) were blocked by residents of Lian, Batangas at about 2 o’clock in the morning, as their convoy of 13 buses were on their way to Matabungkay.
The OFWs arrived last Wednesday from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar and were about to begin a 14-day quarantine protocol according to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.
After the blockade by the town residents, they were finally accommodated in a hotel in nearby Nasugbu, after being stranded in their buses for four hours until 6:00 am.
An OFW who requested anonymity, said that on top of over half-a-day of waiting after they arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, they have not taken a bath for the past three days since their travel from various countries in the Middle East.
“Not only social distancing has been denied us, but personal hygiene.” she quipped.
It appeared that the convoy did not have any government official of a rank that could manage the situation that Labor Undersecretary Hans Cacdac had to be summoned to Batangas to mollify the situation that is to appeal to Lian Mayor Isagani Bolompo to seek a solution and apologize to the OFWs for the awful inconvenience.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año also said that he would send police escorts blaming miscoordination as the root cause of the fiasco in a radio interview.
Bello and his tontos
Obviously Secretary Bello and his tontos again, have screwed up the situation. There is no excuse why DILG was not informed of this activity, considering that common sense dictates that the pertinent local government unit and police security would inevitably be pivotal over sensitive matter on anything that has Covid-19 implications.
According to Cacdac himself, the OFWs were already very hungry and tired when he got there.
Of course they were! This is definitely no way to treat our modern-day heroes.
Who the hell was supposed to be in charge there?
Paging Secretary Silvestre Bello III…!
Is the Department of Labor and Employment on auto-pilot?
In my first article on this series, I discussed on how immigration officials prevented Filipino nurses from catching their flight at NAIA to fulfill their contracts to work for the United Kingdom’s National Health Service.
Arguably, the Department of Immigration was just doing their duty policing our borders implementing Resolution No. 09 Series of 2020 of the Philippine Overseas Employment Authority signed on April 2, the POEA prohibiting health workers from deployment abroad “until the national state of emergency is lifted and until Covid-19-related travel restrictions are lifted at the destination country.”
Nobody, not even the Inter-Agency Task Force created by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to lead against Covid-19, knew about this resolution, until its surprise enforcement on April 10.
Bello is the chairman of the board of the Philippine Overseas Employment Authority (POEA) responsible for the said resolution.
The labor secretary is the second Cabinet official who has received petitions for resignation in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. The first clamor was for Secretary of Health Francisco Duque.
Malacanang, however, dismissed any action on Duque implying any action affecting members of the Cabinet is hardly any option to be considered in the middle of a national crisis.
In the case of Duque, public clamor, it seems, had been overtaken by a public relations blitz to keep Duque on the job.
His ouster has been percolating since he impressed upon the public during the Dengvaxia investigations that he was shielding the bureaucratic mafia at the health department that protects the big pharma industries. This impression seemed to have turned into a relapse following nationwide perception of the secretary’s anemic decision-making even after Covid-19 had already been declared a pandemic.
SovereignPH columnist Charlie Manalo was among the first to assert that Duque’s irresponsibility in handling the Covid-19 pandemic is taking its toll on the Duterte administration.
Manalo said “I maintain that we should not change horses in the middle of the stream. Still, it would not hurt to dump a few deadweights along the way.”
Hardly had this argument settled, when Economic Secretary Ernesto Pernia resigned. Not only did it take President Duterte less than 24 hours to accept his resignation, but his replacement Karl Hendrick Chua, was named posthaste, in the middle of national crisis at that!
Chua is the undersecretary of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.
Secretary Dominguez earlier announced that the P35 billion amelioration fund for distribution by the Department of Labor and Employment will instead be assigned to the Social Security System for completion.
The move followed after over a billion pesos had already been distributed by Secretary Bello using some money remittance centers like Palawan Express and Cebuana Lhuiller.
Some pundits earlier were speculating that if P35 billion were to be given to domestic and overseas workers at P5,000 per head, there will be some 7 million recipients. When multiplied by P145 remittance fee, this will account for over a billion pesos of the people’s money benefitting some select vested interests.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development was more prudent in using the free services of Landbank to distribute its assigned amelioration fund, after nationwide complaints of favoritism and corruption of barangay and local government units reached the attention of the President.
In the United States, President Donald Trump’s stimulus package of $1,200 for singles and $2,400 for married couples is being distributed through the Internal Revenue Service for all those whose adjusted gross incomes are low. This is definitely the best way to do it, but it cannot yet be implemented because we have not implemented the national ID sytem that was signed into law August 6, 2018.
Fears within DOLE spread like wildfire when rumors that one billion pesos will be spent to favor some private interests, when the substantial amount could be distributed free just as DSWD did it and as Secretary Dominguez is about to do using the SSS payment system, to more beneficiaries.
I have since November 2019 have asked for the removal of Secretary Silvestre Bello from the president’s official family, over ten cases ranging from treason to graft and corruption to usurpation of authority that I have filed for administrative relief with the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission and for criminal indictment before the Office of the Ombudsman.
Myrna Valdez of Davao City says “lack of quick response over serious matters like this has plummeted our corruption index to its lowest since 2012.”
She cited “studies done by Transparency International ranked the Philippines 113th of 180 countries studied on their perceived political integrity dropping 14 notches from 99 in December 2019 report.”
Recall peace talks
We are not even talking here about bringing OFWs Joanna Demafelis and Jeanelyn Villavende back to life as more lives may be at risk due to the incompetence of a lone ranger and his tontos during this crisis.
Bello was also responsible for lobbying the President to recall the peace talks between the government and the communist terrorist groups led by Jose Maria Sison.
Of late, the New People’s Army has been busying themselves attacking our soldiers and policemen distributing relief goods to indigent residents in Davao City, Balangiga in Samar, Agusan del Sur and other locations.
Ergo, I second the motion of Charlie Manalo, that “still, it would not hurt to dump a few deadweights along the way.”
To be continued…