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Sunday, June 16, 2024

131 LGUs in calamity state

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DOLE advises employers to adopt 4-day workweek

Some 131 local government units have declared a state of calamity as the country continues to grapple with the effects of the El Niño phenomenon.

The Department of Labor and Employment likewise advised employers they may opt to shift to a four-day workweek to alleviate the inconvenience being experienced by employees due to the scorching heat.

The Department of Education, on the other hand, sent a letter to President Marcos citing a more “aggressive” return to the April-May school break.

Task Force El Niño spokesperson and Presidential Communications Office Assistant Secretary Joey Villarama said the LGUs currently under a state of calamity include Occidental Mindoro, Antique, Sultan Kudarat, Basilan, Maguindanao del Sur, Maguindanao Del Norte, and South Cotabato.

“These LGUs are all over the country,” he said.

Citing data from the Department of Agriculture, Villarama said the El Niño phenomenon has so far caused P4.39 billion worth of damage to 77,731 hectares of agricultural lands.

For his part, Labor Undersecretary Benjo Benavidez said shifting to a four-day workweek is not mandatory but an option and prerogative of companies.

He said this aims to reduce anxiety, stress and burnout of workers due to extreme hot weather.

“The four-day workweek is a flexible work arrangement. Flexible work arrangements are the prerogative and one of the options of our employers, in consultation with their employees” Benavidez said.

“If this will ensure the safety of the employees and their productivity will be maintained or improved, then why not?” he added.

He said the government is already implementing mandatory occupational safety and health standards under a department order and the law.

As for the school calendar, DepEd spokesperson Francis Bringas said: “In response to the recent clamor for a more immediate reversion to the April-May school break, the department has already submitted a letter to the Office of the President presenting other options, including a more aggressive alternative ending school year 2024 to 2025 in March 2025.”

“In the meantime, we respectfully appeal to the committee to allow the President time to study the options carefully,” he added.

DepEd earlier set an initial five-year timeline to fully transition to the old academic calendar, where classes start in June and end in March.

The unusually hot weather in the country was expected to last until mid-May, the state weather bureau said as extreme heat scorched Southeast Asia in recent days.

Global temperatures hit record highs last year, and the United Nations’ weather and climate agency said Asia was warming at a particularly rapid pace.

The Philippines ranked among the countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

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