THE Department of Agriculture Regional Field Unit 6 (DA-RFU 6) is coordinating with the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) to check the working status of sugarcane laborers in Negros Occidental.

DA has yet to validate reports that some sugarcane laborers have lost employment due to low sugarcane harvest, said Remelyn Recoter, DA regional technical director.

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The Sugar Regulatory Authority (SRA) is yet to send the list of sugarcane laborers affected by the El Niño phenomenon that the Dole has been asking, so as to provide adequate financial and livelihood assistance, said Recoter.

The SRA has reported a very high damage in the sugarcane industry, especially in Capiz and Negros Occidental provinces.

SRA has also confirmed that the sugar tonnage has drop significantly due to the El Niño with the sugarcane laborers are paid on a daily basis.

Meanwhile, Alan Gozon, chairperson of Democratic Association of Labor Organization (Dalo) said they remain in “limbo” in questioning the implementation of P16.709-million worth of unclaimed cash bonus fund (UCBF) for the sugar workers in the province.

Gozon said until now many of his members, other sugar workers and their families have not availed of the socio-economic projects that were distributed to different milling districts that are supposed to be beneficiaries.

On June 19, 2009, Dalo wrote a manifest to Dole citing their position against the resolution passed by the Sugar Tripartite Council (STC) that wants UCBF to be coursed through the planters group.

Meanwhile, Dole granted STC’s resolution through the Department Order No. 94-09, which served as guidelines on the utilization of the available P16.709 million forfeited UCBF in Negros Occidental for the implementation of socio-economic projects in milling districts.

But Dalo expressed discontent on Dole's decision and on STC’s granting and in channeling UCBF to the planters group.

Gozon said “the sugar workers were only used as front acts by the planters themselves for them to enjoy in what they call socio-economic projects that not all of the sugar workers and their respective families can fully benefited from.” (George M. De La Cruz)