The Department of Labor and Employment has not received any request for authority to transport sugar migrants, or “sacadas”, to Negros Occidental.
DOLE-Antique director Melisa Navarra, in an interview yesterday, said they have been waiting for representative of millers in Negros Occidental to request for the authority in time for the milling season in the province.
“So far, no one has yet requested for authority to transport the sacadas, maybe because Bacolod City in Negros Occidental is under modified enhanced community quarantine,” Navarra said.
She said the sacadas, who will be transported back to Negros Occidental, would have to undergo swab tests and a 14-day quarantine upon their arrival there to make sure that they have no coronavirus disease 2019 and are fit to work.
“The swab test, however, will have to be shouldered by the millers who are the employers,” Navarra said.
In a meeting on August 20, the DOLE and the Antique Provincial Planning and Development Office met with millers to discuss the health protocols to be observed, such as subjecting the sacadas to swab tests.
“For the sugar migrants who have Philippine Health Insurance Corp. membership, their reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction test will be charged to PhilHealth,” Navarra said.
For sacadas who are not PhilHealth members, the millers will be the ones to pay for their RT-PCR and this will not be deducted from their wages.
It could be recalled that 1,698 sacadas came home to Antique from May 18 to June 10 right after the lockdown because they had no work in Negros Occidental.
However, as the milling season starts, some of them are expected to return to Negros Occidental because of available employment.*PNA