PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, PALAWAN – 33 employees of Iwahig Community Eco-Tourism Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Ferry Area, Brgy. Ihawig Central, Puerto Princesa City received a total amount of PHP1,752,276.00 of monetary claims due to separation from their cooperative. In an unusual yet fortunate turn of event, it was the cooperative – the employer of the workers, that filed the Request for Assistance Form (RFA) on May 17, 2019. Within two (2) hours, both parties settled thru conciliation-mediation proceeding under Single Entry Approach (SEnA) facilitated by Hearing Officer and Palawan Field Office Head Luis B. Evangelista.

The SEnA was initiated by the employer to make sure that everything will be on legal and appropriate procedure thru the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) process and at any case, if there are concerns of the affected employees, these will be properly addressed. The payment received by the workers includes separation pay, 13th month pay and unused leave. The sum of monetary benefits for each employee ranges from PhP12,800.00 to  PhP108,471.00.

It was noted that Iwahig Community Eco-Tourism Multi-Purpose Cooperative operates the Iwahig Firefly watching – one of the main tourist attractions in the City of Puerto Princesa. They operate night tour to local and foreign visitors along Iwahig River which is located in the property of the Bureau of Corrections and Penology (BuCor). Their office and restaurant are also located in the BuCor property. However, due closure order of BuCor, the cooperative needs to cease their operation thus the termination of 33 affected workers.

“It is a good thing that it was the management of the cooperative initiated this SEnA to make sure that any doubt from any of the workers will be properly addressed by the DOLE and assuring that every cent they receive is properly accounted for, no more, no less. Likewise, both the management and affected employees were cooperative during the mediation-conciliation proceeding,” Mr. Evangelista said.

In an interview, Ms. Evelyn E. Papa, one of the affected workers, said that she was happy that the proceeding went smoothly and they duly received what was due for them. “Mabuti at nandito ang DOLE upang ipaliwanag sa amin ang mga karapatang matanggap bilang manggagawa. Magandang bagay din na sa mismong DOLE din ang nag-validate na tama ang ibibigay sa amin ng aming kooperatiba” (Thanks to DOLE for enlightening us on the rights and benefits that a worker should have. Also, we appreciate DOLE for the validation made to our payment from the cooperative), she added.

End/Renell G. Mayo