DOLE makes U-turn on Skyway work suspension

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    A DAY after issuing a work stoppage order (WSO) covering the entire stretch of the Skyway Extension project due to an accident that left a motorcycle rider dead and six others injured, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) made a U-turn and ordered the partial lifting of the stoppage order due to the project’s “utmost national importance.”

    Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III early yesterday denied knowledge of the WSO issued last Monday by DOLE-National Capital Region Director Atty. Sarah Mirasol covering the affected area of the Skyway Extension Project, which is part of the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program.

    Later in the day, however, Bello said the initial WSO issued by Mirasol will be in effect.

    “Accordingly, the EEI Corporation/Skyway Extension Project and/or Mr. Jose Q. Ilagan and those involved sub-contractors, if any, are directed to immediately stop the construction activity in the affected area of the construction site of the said project,” Bello said.

    DOLE spokesman Rolly Francia on Monday said Bello ordered the issuance of a WSO, explaining that the order is an expansion of the initial WSO issued by Mirasol.

    “Considering the progress of the on-going works, immediate stoppage of all works in the entire Skyway Extension Project would present further risk and additional peril on the works. In this regard, this Office recognizes the utmost national importance underlying the said Skyway Extension Project,” Bello said in his order yesterday.

    “Wherefore, premises considered, the Supplemental Work Stoppage Order dated 23 November 2020 is hereby Partially Lifted,” he added.

    Bello said they also considered the adverse effects of a WSO to the employees assigned or deployed in unaffected areas, “whose livelihood heavily depends on the project’s continued operation.”

    Bello said the project contractor, EEI Corp., has manifested that the incident was an isolated case and the company has strict safety protocols in place. He said failure to comply with the DOLE order can be considered a criminal offense punishable under Article 288 of the Labor Code of the Philippines.