PRC, DOLE renew tieup on workplace health, safety


THE Philippine Red Cross (PRC) renewed on Tuesday its partnership with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), to promote health and safety in workplaces.

PRC Chairman Richard J. Gordon signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with DOLE Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma on the first leg of  PRC’s three-day 33rd Biennial National Convention at the Manila Hotel. 

“This [partnership] will ultimately help and sustain the Department of Labor and Employment’s efforts towards the creation of a workplace culture that advocates a safe, healthy and inclusive work environment,” said the labor chief. 

According to him, it’s important to secure the welfare and well-being of the labor sector, particularly those in small-scale businesses, which are considered the lifeblood of the country’s economy yet lacking the capability and resources to espouse sustainable occupational safety and health best practices.

“We, at DOLE, recognize the important role of our micro enterprises,” he said, while citing the preliminary results of the nationwide 2021 Updating of the List of Establishments (ELU) of the Philippine Statistics Authority, which shows 977,670 micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) out of a total of 1,080,638 establishments in the country. “That’s why our priority target are the the workers of micro enterprises to benefit from this partnership.”

Under the MOA, the PRC will conduct life-saving courses like basic and advanced first aid training for 800,000 MSME employees for the next 12 months. DOLE will finance this P1.2-billion training initiative to hone and develop the response skills of micro enterprise workers in case of emergency at their workplace.

“When we sign this, we have to work on it. It’s not going to be easy because at 800,000 in one year, all the chapters will have to train first aiders. They will need at least 2,500 [trainees] a day in the entire country, and they will be re-certified after two years,” Gordon noted.

What’s next

AT PRC’s 75th Founding Anniversary celebration last April 15, the foremost humanitarian organization affirmed a more enhanced and transformative humanitarian service in the coming years.

In a press briefing at the sideline of the biennial meeting, Gordon said they are further developing their volunteers to become more adept in their emergency or disaster response skills for any looming international or domestic conflicts in the next several years.

“We still have an insurgency here and we’re getting into a situation where Asia or the Indo-Pacific region would have a possible violent altercation. In this case, I want to make sure that we have all our volunteers preparing in case there’s a war, in case the bullets start coming in, or in case the refugees come in from Taiwan,” he said of the growing concern on China’s likely invasion of Taiwan amid the latter’s latest military maneuvers around the small strait up north of the Philippines.

Apart from the ensuing Covid-19 crisis, the PRC chairman said they are bracing for the possible outbreak of other diseases like the measles and HIV that could be the “next pandemic” in the country if left unaddressed. 

In fact, he said only 63 percent of the population have been immunized against measles, while the prevalence of HIV among Filipinos has increased from one person per day to two persons an hour. 

“Now, we have the problem of malnutrition. We have 5,000 people dying every year because they are malnourished—mainly from young people of this country. That’s not good. So we’re going to tackle that as well,” he added. “Also, we’ll be preparing for massive disasters because, as what is happening in the whole world, climate change is affecting it.”

Gordon revealed that they will establish a diagnostic hospital in their 14-hectare property in Marikina that could provide services, such as ultrasound, MRI, CAT Scan, etc.

To support this, he said they plan to put up a mall with it—the proceeds of which will then be used to build medical and nursing schools next to the healthcare facility.

“We’re still doing the study and still fishing for people who would want to invest because this is going to be a hospital that will be funded by commercial operations,” he said. “So those are just some of the things that we’re doing.”