The Department of Labor and Employment released P131,282,819.39 recently to plantation workers of sugarcane planters milling with the Binalbagan-Isabela Sugar Co. in Binalbagan, Negros Occidental, DOLE Region 6 director Ponciano Ligutom said yesterday.
The amount represented the three percent workers’ share on the increase in the milling participation/agreement between the planters and the mill for crop year 2010-2011under Republic Act No. 809 or the Sugar Act of 1952, Ligutom said in a press release.
Ligutom said the decision to release the workers’ share was made after a resolution was reached in the meeting with the six planters’ associations on an impasse on the “No Payroll – No Release” policy of the DOLE.
During the meeting with BISCOM planters at the Sugar Workers Development Center in Bacolod City last week, Ligutom and the group agreed that only those planters who have submitted the payroll of the previous crop year can receive their respective labor share.
The planters’ associations in the BISCOM mill district earlier reacted to the DOLE policy, claiming that their workers have been clamoring for the release of their production share that had already reached more than P200 million, the press release said.
Ligutom asserted that the policy is in accordance with the guidelines set by RA 809. He told the planters that the DOLE is just implementing what is provided in the law.
The policy requires the planters, through their associations, to submit payrolls of the previous crop year for them to receive succeeding releases of the workers’ share, he said.
However, based on the report of the Negros Occidental Field Office, some associations have not fully distributed the workers’ share for the last three cropping seasons as they had not submitted to the DOLE the duly-signed special payroll, the only proof that the workers’ share have been distributed to the intended beneficiaries, the press release said.
“We don’t intend to hold the money because we knew our workers need it badly,” Ligutom said. “Our purpose here is to straighten things out in accordance with the law,” he added.
“If all the funds released in previous years have already been liquidated, there will be no problem in releasing the labor’s share for the succeeding crop year,” Ligutom said.
BISCOM and Southern Negros Development Corp. in Kabankalan City are the only milling districts in the country that give the three percent cash bonus share of workers to member-planters’ associations from the five percent increase in participation agreement of the DOLE and BISCOM and the DOLE-SONEDCO sugar mill districts, the press release said.
In 2008, however, URC-SONEDCO (then SONEDCO) petitioned for a two-year suspension of RA 809 in its district, covering crop years 2009-2010 and 2010-2011, it added.*