for off-season sugar workers
The Department of Labor and Employment will construct a livelihood center for the upskilling of thousands of sugarcane farm workers in Negros Oriental to prepare them for off-milling season, agency officials said.
“Our visit today is partly for the signing of a Deed of Usufruct with Dumaguete Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo for our DOLE provincial office and the official launch of the P18.5 million livelihood center,” Labor Sec.Bienvenido Laguesma said in an interview Thursday afternoon.
The livelihood center will be constructed in Tanjay City with the budget to be taken from the Sugar Amelioration Fund, he added.
Laguesma likewise hoped to find a sponsor or sponsors for the project so that its implementation could be fast-tracked.
DOLE Undersecretary Benjo Benavidez, in the same interview, said there are some 30,000 sugarcane plantation workers in Negros Oriental that will benefit from the livelihood center.
“This livelihood center is where we provide skills training for sugarcane workers for other sources of income considering that working at the sugarcane fields is just seasonal,” Benavidez said.
There is a law mandating that a portion of the proceeds from sugarcane produce goes to the people as a trust fund, he explained.
Over the years, 80 percent of this is given as cash benefits to sugar workers, while 20 percent is for the socio-economic program, where P18.5 million is sourced for the livelihood center in Negros Oriental.
A land has been acquired in Tanjay City which is more accessible to the sugarcane farm workers, Benavidez said, adding that the Department of Public Works & Highways has a plan for the structure which they hope would be built within the year.
Meanwhile, the DOLE Chief and Mayor Remollo signed a 25-year Deed of Usufruct for the construction of the agency’s provincial office in Barangay Bajumpandan, where a government center for various national agencies is situated.
During the groundbreaking, Laguesma thanked the City Mayor for the opportunity, saying that rent is more expensive and subject to fluctuation and other conditions.
He said he hopes that the partnership with the City government would extend beyond 25 years as DOLE expects the building can also be expanded for other services/programs offered by the agency.
The DOLE officials also cited the Public Employment Services Office of this provincial capital for being the best in Region 7 and handed the award to Ma. Socorro Mira, the City’s PESO chief. (Judy F. Partlow/PNA)