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Over 6,500 displaced workers from Abra and nearby provinces devastated by a magnitude 7 earthquake last week were already provided emergency jobs by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

In a Viber message, Labor Undersecretary Benjo M. Benavidez told the BusinessMirror the bulk or 4,625 of the said beneficiaries of their Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) as of last Tuesday were from the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).

He said they were also able to register 1,350 beneficiaries in Ilocos Sur, 450 in Ilocos Norte, and 100 in La Union.

“They started [their emergency employment] last July 29, which will last for 15 days. We expect more to come in the coming days,” Benavidez said.

TUPAD beneficiaries are paid daily minimum wage for light public works like street sweeping, debris cleaning, and declogging works, which lasts for 10 to 90 days.

DOLE earlier said it has allocated P50 million to provide assistance to workers, who were affected in quake-affected areas.

Of which, P25 million was already released to provide aid to over 4,000 workers in CAR, including Abra, which was the hardest-hit province by the earthquake.

DOLE-CAR Regional Director Nathaniel V. Lacambra said there are currently 425 TUPAD beneficiaries from 21 establishments in Abra, which remained closed because of the earthquake.

The labor official said there are 571 beneficiaries of DOLE’s Special Program for the Employment of Students (SPES) in Abra, who are currently being tapped for the repacking of relief goods and its distribution.

“They are also the ones who are conducting the profiling of prospective beneficiaries of our TUPAD program,” Lacambra said in a televised interview last Thursday.

As part of their long-term assistance, Lacambra said they would also provide quake-affected workers with a P5-million livelihood program and skills training opportunities.

Price freeze reminder to Abra traders

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), meanwhile, reminded owners of business establishments in Abra, which is currently under a state of calamity, to adhere to the price freeze.

The 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck areas in Northern Luzon prompted the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to declare the province of Abra under a state of calamity.

According to the Price Act or Republic Act (RA) No. 7581, as amended by RA 10623, prices of basic necessities (BN) are automatically frozen at their prevailing prices for 60 days once a state of calamity (SOC) is declared in an area.

The DTI monitors BN products under its purview such as canned fish, locally manufactured instant noodles, bottled water, bread, processed milk, coffee, candles, laundry soap, detergent, and salt.

The DTI also noted in a statement issued on Friday that other implementing agencies under the Price Act are mandated to ensure price stability and availability of supply for the products under their jurisdiction.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) is in charge of rice, corn, cooking oil, fresh, dried and other marine products, fresh eggs, fresh pork, beef and poultry meat, fresh milk, fresh vegetables, root crops, sugar, and fresh fruits, while the Department of Health takes care of drugs classified as essential.

“In these trying times, we again appeal to the private sector for assistance in ensuring that our fellow citizens have access to these basic goods, particularly in the most severely affected areas. We assure consumers that our DTI monitors in these provinces will keep an eye on the prices and supply of basic necessities,” said DTI Undersecretary for Consumer Protection Group Ruth B. Castelo.

The public can view the list of basic goods at their prevailing prices on Abra Province’s Facebook page and the DTI web site (https://www.dti.gov.ph/konsyumer/e-presyo/).

“Additionaly, due to massive flooding caused by the overflowing of the Maridagao and Kabacan Rivers, the prices of BNs in the Municipality of Datu Montawal, Province of Maguindanao, shall remain at their prevailing prices for 60 days, beginning July 18,2022 and ending September 15,2022,” said DTI in a statement.With Andrea San Juan