(CHAMPIONING LABOR. Gov. Lilia G. Pineda shares her advocacies for the freeport with Mabalacat Mayor Cris Garbo and CDC president-CEO Noel Manankil. Photo by Bong Lacson)
CLARK FREEPORT – “That $4.6 billion speaks of the imperative for all of us to do our share to ensure and enhance productivity in this freeport.”
So cited Gov. Lilia G. Pineda of the 2018 export volume of the Clark Freeport during the “Linking of CFZ Locators and Pampanga Public Employment Service Office (PESO)” that gathered the human resources managers of locator firms, local government executives, officials of the association of barangay chairs, and municipal PESO heads at the Royce Hotel here.
“This is the start of close collaboration between Clark, its locators, the Capitol, and the local government units,” Pineda said, giving particular mention to the City of Mabalacat within which territorial jurisdiction lies a greater part of this freeport.
“We cannot allow any disturbance in the industrial peace and harmony obtaining now at Clark, endanger the production of goods and services, and lose its earnings,” she said in Filipino, amid reports that some special ecozones have been allegedly infiltrated by militant labor groups coming from outside the region to foment workers’ unrest.
To prevent the entry of labor agitators, Pineda said barangay chairmen may be tasked to issue certificates of good moral character on applicants for Clark jobs: “They can vouch for the applicants, as they are their constituents and are presumed to know them.”
This would also ensure the priority in employment given to residents of the municipalities around Clark, in the spirit of RA 7227 or the Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992 that mandated the parallel development of the communities contiguous to the former US military bases.
To further empower the workers, Pineda said she has discussed with Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III and Clark Development Corp. president- CEO Noel Manankil the establishment of a labor center at the freeport that shall address the immediate needs of both workers and locators.
Pineda likewise extended to Clark workers her so-called “Nanay health advocacy” with her planned establishment of an extension of the Pampanga provincial hospital at the freeport.
“We are well aware of the health needs of our workers, and the high cost of hospitalization,” Pineda said. “Thus, this hospital dedicated to them with its own diagnostic center, pharmacy with tax-free medicines, and zero balance billing.”
According to the governor, the CDC has allotted a 2,000 square meter lot for the hospital.
“I already talked with (Mabalacat City) Mayor Cris Garbo for this project. He can allot budget for this from the P800 million share of the city from the gross income earned from Clark,” she said.
The workers hospital in the freeport is the second of its kind in Pampanga. Last May 1, Pineda along with Bello and House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, broke ground for the first ever hospital exclusive for overseas Filipino workers and their families in the City of San Fernando.
Pineda initiated the donation by the provincial government of a two-hectare lot at the Provincial Engineering Office compound in Barangay Sindalan to site the OFW hospital which will also have a diagnostic center and provide free services.
–With Leah Isidro De Fiesta/Pampanga PIO