BY CARLA P. GOMEZ
Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson and Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo have signed a joint memorandum setting the guidelines for migratory sugarcane workers (MSWs) travelling to Negros Occidental from Oriental, and vice versa, for crop year 2020-2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sugar Regulatory Administration Board Member Emilio “Dino ” Yulo said yesterday that there are 10,000 MSWs from neighboring provinces who come to Negros Occidental during harvest season as cane cutters, with about 3,000 from Negros Oriental.
They usually work on farms located in southern and central Negros Occidental, he said.
The milling operations in Negros Oriental usually start in December, so until then, most of them come to work at Negros Occidental farms, Yulo added.
MSWs will be considered authorized persons outside residence (APORs) since the sugar industry is classified as an essential industry subject to provisions of the joint guidelines, and circulars of the Department of Agriculture, Department of Labor and Employment and the Inter Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, the agreement the two governors signed Monday said.
Individual planters have to submit the list of their MSWs for the crop year to their planters associations with the following information: names of MSWs, the PhilHealth number of the MSWs if applicable, the MSWs basic personal information, their eventual place of assignment in Negros Occidental, and preferred date of entry to Negros Occidental or Oriental.
The MSWs will be subjected to RT-PCR tests at their point of entry and will be placed on mandatory quarantine at the hacienda where they will work until their test results are released, the joint memorandum states.
The Provincial Incident Management Team will schedule the entry of the MSWs into Negros Occidental, based on the RT-PCR testing capacity of the province, the agreement added.
The MSWs points of entry into the province will be Barangay Tagukon, Kabankalan City, Barangay Masulog, La Castellana, and Barangay Buluangan, San Carlos City.
The province of Negros Oriental has the option to subject its returning MSWs to RT-PCR tests or not, depending on the prevailing COVID-19 situation at the time, the agreement also states.*