House panel dismayed as key IATF officials snub inquiry on 'no vax, no work' policy

Zandro Ochona, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 07 2021 09:28 PM

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MANILA — The House Committee on Labor and Employment is set to compel to attend its hearings the officials of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

This, after IATF key officials reportedly failed to show up on the House panel's inquiry into illegal implementation of “no vaccine, no work” policies in some private establishments and government offices.

”That is why we need to dialogue with the people from the IATF because we are now basing everything on first-hand experience 'di ba? Hindi to haka-haka, totoo ito eh,” said committee chairman 1PACMAN Partylist Rep. Eric Pineda.

”Not because you have the vaccine, you are the only that has the right to work 'di ba? If you’re espousing a safer working space ‘yun ang ipatutupad ninyo. Lahat ng bakunado ipa-check niyo rin 'gaya ng ginagawa ko then you are assured that your workplace is malinis po sila at hindi po sila makakahawa,” said Pineda.

Business groups present during the hearing clarified that employees are required to undergo routine RT-PCR tests to help prevent the spread of the virus, but Pineda disagreed and called on everyone even the vaccinated ones to still undergo routine testing.

The Department of Labor and Employment meanwhile insisted on its Labor Advisory No. 3, series of 2021, which does not permit "no vaccine, no work" policies in firms. It sided however with employers requiring employees to shoulder routine RT-PCR testing.

”When we were discussing this with the officials of the DOLE, wala naman pong nakitang pagsasalungat po na inaallow pa rin ho ang work, yun nga lang may karagdagang requirements,” said DOLE Asec. Tes Cucueco.

DOLE said it is seriously looking into recommendations from all the sectors on this issue.

Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Ferdinand Gaite, meanwhile, threatened to issue a subpoena if key government officials would still ignore their invitation.

”Sana po sa susunod na hearing ay tiyakin na makakarating ang responsible key persons na makakarating si IATF chair and DOH Sec. Francisco Duque. Kung maaari rin makaupo rin ang kinatawan ng mga manggagawa, who supposedly should champion the interest of the workers, si Sec. Silvestre Bello III. Sana po makadalo sila,” said Gaite.

”Kung hindi pa rin kasi sila makadalo ngayon pa lang I will move the subpoena to mandate them to attend the next hearing. Eh kung kailangan, during the Christmas break mag-meeting tayo dahil tinatamaan na yung ating mga manggagawa,” he said.

Pineda said the committee will send these officials another letter to compel them to attend the next hearing.

During the inquiry, only DOH-IATF secretariat Usec. Charade Mercado-Grande was present.

The next hearing is set for next week.

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