DOLE-Negros Oriental official Sandra Delfin explained the age verification procedure is part of the department’s preventive measures against human trafficking, child labor and illegal recruitment.
She noted that this is to make sure that no workers 18 years old and below are hired to toil in sugar plantations since work in this field is considered hazardous. Delfin added that sakadas are exposed to these kinds of dangers since they are deployed in different provinces.
On other hand, the pre-departure orientation aims to inform sugar migratory workers on their rights as employees as well as the benefits they get from their employers and their responsibilities to their employers.
Also part of the orientation was a briefing of the contract they have to sign with their employer.
“For our part, we would like to make sure that they are not illegally recruited and that they are informed on their benefits,” Delfin said.
According to Delfin, sakadas earn an average of P200 to more than P300 a day but the department does its best to protect the welfare of this workers by ensuring that they get their benefits from their employers who are DOLE accredited.
The 60 sakadas who underwent the age verification process and pre-departure orientation came from the towns of Mabinay, Ayungon and Bais City. They are recruited by the contractor, ETD Harvesting Inc. which is based in Tarlac.
These sugar migratory workers will then be deployed in the provinces of Tarlac, Nueva Ecija and Pampanga.
As part of the age verification process, travelling sugar migratory workers are asked to bring a copy of their birth certificate. The document will be also used for easy enrollment in mandatory social benefits like PhilHealth, Pag-Ibig and SSS.
After these two processes, DOLE will put their names on a master list and issue a clearance certificate which will be their proof that they are allowed to travel.
Port Authorities will then look at the master list to double check if the person appearing in the list is the same as the person who checked in at the port.
These sugar migratory workers are expected to leave the province in the morning of November 5.
Once they have left the province, the DOLE provincial office will then notify other DOLE offices in Central Luzon to inform that sakadas have already been deployed in the earlier mentioned provinces.
This is part of securing the safety of the sakadas from Negros Oriental.
When asked why, sugar plantation owners prefer workers from Negros Oriental, Delfin answered that this is because Negrenses are industrious when it comes to work and they contribute a lot in big productions in these plantations. (mbcn/ral/PIA7-NegOr/Article first published at PIA Website on Nov. 4, 2014)