Senator urges class, work suspension during hottest period of the day

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 24 2023 05:15 PM | Updated as of Apr 24 2023 06:52 PM

A man cuts the grass under the summer heat by the Marikina Riverbanks Amphitheater in Marikina City on April 20, 2023. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
A man cuts the grass under the summer heat by the Marikina Riverbanks Amphitheater in Marikina City on April 20, 2023. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE) — Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Monday urged the government and employers to suspend work during the hottest period of the day.
Pimentel made the call following weather bureau Pagasa's announcement that it might issue an El Niño alert next month, along with the fear that the phenomenon may last until next year. 

“At least outdoor work… suspend work kunyari 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., yung peak, yung pinakamainit na part. Dahil sa ibang bansa ginagawa na yan eh. I hope the DOLE will also study that,” Pimentel said.

"It doesn’t have to be outdoor. Ang importante yung temperature level, dangerous level na yung tinatamaan,” he added. 

(At least for outdoor work, it could be suspended from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the peak of the heat. It's done in other countries... The important factor is the temperature level, if it's already hitting the dangerous level.)

He added that the break should not mean extending work hours and should be considered part of rendered service.
“Bumiyahe ka na from to your house to your workplace eh. Tapos biglang uminit, sobrang uminit na delikado na yung temperature, bawal ka dapat ipatrabaho. Eh hindi mo na kasalanan yun, paid na yun,” Pimentel pointed out. 

(You were required to travel from your house to your workplace, when the temperature suddenly shot up to a dangerous level, you should no longer be required to work then. That's not your fault, it should be paid.)

The work suspension should be based on Pagasa's advisory and actual temperature reading, the senator suggested. 

Among those that must be covered by temporary work suspension are construction workers, street sweepers and traffic enforcers, Pimentel said.


Pimentel believes students should also be covered by suspension of face-to-face classes due to extreme heat, with either online classes or school day adjustment as alternatives. 

‘Kung nasa loob ka na ng classroom, saan mo pa sila (students) ipapatago... It’s time to call it a day. Kung madaming school days ang nawala, hindi ba minsan nagsa-Saturday make-up classes,” he said. 

(Where will you make students hide from the heat in a classroom. If there are too many school days lost, make-up classes could be held on Saturdays.)

He also urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to divert its confidential and other funds to improving the ventilation of school buildings. 

The DepEd recently reiterated that school administrators can suspend face-to-face classes due to natural disasters, calamities and human-induced hazards, but modular distance learning should be implemented to replace the canceled or suspended classes.

DepEd also said school heads can suspend in-person classes and implement modular distance learning due to extremely high temperatures which can put students’ health at risk. 

Meanwhile, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, chairperson of the Senate Basic Education committee, underlined the authority of school principals to decide if there is a need to cancel or shorten their classes. 

“The principals are empowered to cancel or shorten classes due to extreme heat or bad weather. Schools officials and parents should also follow weather forecast on a daily and weekly basis to know what will be the best decision to protect the welfare of learners,” the senator said. 

Gatchalian, who already registered his support to revert to the pre-pandemic school calendar, reiterated his position to give children more time to bond with their family and to free up schools every month of May, given that said facilities are being used during elections.