In recent local news items, the Occupational Safety Health Center (OSHC) under the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Northern Mindanao recently conducted the 2nd Regional Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Summit in Cagayan de Oro City. The summit was attended by some 400 advocates from various industries. The aim of the summit was to update the attendees on the government’s new policies on safety and occupational hazards at work places.
The summit went on to feature plenary sessions and discussions on the challenges and issues that Filipino workers would face should ASEAN integration push forward. Other discussions included strategies on occupational safety and emergency management.
This is all well and good; however, two glaring inconveniences stand out from the summit.
In My Opinion
Firstly, since one of the aims of government is to “fast track accreditation of new government policies on safety and occupational hazards at work places,” time and experience has proven that anything the government wants “fast tracked” tends to be unclear and falls flat on its face. Two glaring examples are the fast-tracked K to 12 Education Program and the BBL Law, all being fast-tracked in the name of political expediency. One only needs to study the material distributed at the summit to see the glaring gaps in this recent labor venture.
Secondly, why the sudden interest and focus on the ASEAN integration? This proposal, similar to the European Union venture, is at present only a proposal and will take at least some 5 to 10 years to iron out. Unlike European countries that share a lot of cultural and political similarities, something that has pushed the EU venture into success, there are far too many cultural and political differences with the Southeast Asian nations that make up ASEAN. For one, the differences in religion alone has an impact on political decisions, and another, the political backgrounds of each ASEAN country is as diverse and dissimilar as it can be. So instead of pre-empting for something that might not happen at all for the next 10 years, why not improve on existing policies that are hardly enforced at all?
Government, and this means the whole entity and not just the regional offices, should come up with better policies on how to enforce already existing laws and policies on labor, safety, and inspection of work places. Enforcement has always been a problem with the government; it’s not like we are lacking terms of laws and policies; we really have good ones, in fact, even better than in most western countries, but the problem that always plagues is enforcing these laws and policies.
For instance, many work places around the city are still in violation of some fire safety and hazard regulations, a clear violation as well of labor laws. There is no clear cut system to check on minimum wages, and some employers continue to deduct benefits from employees but do not remit these to the proper agencies such as SSS.
Note: Every now and then aboutcagayandeoro.com and its parent company LogicBase Interactive LLC comes out with an opinion column to address a specific issue that affects the whole city as well as the region. The opinions, ideas, and even facts stated in the column however, do not necessarily reflect the views of the website and the company.