Iloilo City---Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis Baldoz, accompanied by Undersecretary Ciriaco Lagunzad Jr. and DOLE Regional Office No. 6 Regional Director Ponciano Ligutom, yesterday personally handed out 98 checks worth a total of P36,605,536.08 to proponents and beneficiaries of livelihood assistance coming from five of six provinces of Western Visayas--Iloilo, Negroz Occidental, Aklan, Capiz, and Guimaras.

Baldoz went to Iloilo to grace back-to-back activities of the DOLE regional office, one of which was the re-orientation on the guidelines of the DOLE Integrated Livelihood and Emergency Program, or DILEEP, where she released the P36-M livelihood bonanza at the event held at the Sarabia Manor Hotel and Convention Center along General Luna Street, this city.

Also held at the same hotel was the mixed industry-wide joint assessment under the DOLE's new Labor Laws Compliance Program.

In her message to the beneficiaries, the labor and employment chief said the DOLE seeks to provide protection to the vulnerable and informal sector workers of the country, particularly the victims of natural disasters and calamities, through the DILEEP by providing them means to earn income and recover from their risks and vulnerabilities.

"I also urge you to maximize the opportunity that the DOLE assistance gives you. Please nurture your livelihoods and make them grow to become viable and sustainable enterprises," she said.

Baldoz handed out 58 checks amounting to P17,497,689.20, or almost half of the P36-M, to 54 proponents from the Province of Iloilo, funded under the Tulong Pangkabuhayan sa ating Displaced/Disadvantaged Workers, or TUPAD, and are intended for the reconstruction of public utilities and infrastructure of local government units in Northern Iloilo hardest-hit by the devastating Typhoon Yolanda in November 2013. A total of 3,089 unemployed workers, out-of-school youth, and differently-able persons in the various LGUs will work on the repair of school buildings, bridges, drainage, and canals.

For the province of Aklan, the labor and employment chief awarded eight (8) checks worth P4,997.139 to six (6) proponent-beneficiaries, who will engage in capture fishing and aquaculture, oyster production, fish cage and mud crab fattening to benefit 710 Aklanon.

The P3,635,550 in livelihood assistance that Baldoz released to 17 proponent-beneficiaries from the province of Capiz and the eight (8) checks worth P8,218,9896.88 to eleven (11) proponent-beneficiaries from Negros Occidental under the Yolanda Rehabilitation and Recovery Program (YRRP) will be for the rehabilitation of public utilities and infrastructure, and will be used to pay the salaries of 3,264 workers in emergency employment.

Three proponent-beneficiaries from Guimaras received checks amounting to P2,256,172 for their livelihood projects in support of the local government-driven, DOLE-assisted Pier to Port, or P2P, program. The amount will fund native bag production and marketing, saba banana production and processing, and seaweed farming and processing to benefit 575 Guimarasnon.

Regional Director Ligutom said the DOLE Regional Office No. 6 still has remaining livelihood funds for the year and encouraged the submission of more project proposals. As of 30 September, he said the DOLE regional office has approved 586 livelihood proposals from the six provinces of the region involving total funding of P307,643,859.14.

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