Creation of an Inter-Agency Task Force — Sugar Workers
Letter of Instructions No. 496

January 14, 1977


TO : The Secretary of Labor
The Secretary of Public Works
The Secretary of Public Highways
The Secretary of Natural Resources
The Secretary of Local Government and
Community Development
The Secretary of Agriculture
President, Philippine National Bank
Administrator, National Grains Authority
All heads of Local Governments Concerned

WHEREAS, the Philippine sugar industry is severely affected by the present slump in the world price of sugar;

WHEREAS, this slump has resulted in cutbacks in the local sugar production causing massive lay-offs of sugar workers;

WHEREAS, the dislocation rate of sugar workers is expected to be as much as 30% at the end of the present milling season; cd i

WHEREFORE, be it ordered as it is hereby ordered that emergency measures be immediately initiated and carried out, jointly or separately to provide all possible assistance and relief to affected sugar workers and their families; Provided, that any project or program undertaken shall satisfy the following criteria: (1) priority to the most distressed workers and planters, (2) with immediate impact, and (3) with maximum employment content;

To ensure effective coordination of the efforts of the various agencies participating in the amelioration of the sugar workers affected by the economic crisis, there is hereby created an Inter-Agency Task Force Sugar Workers, which shall be composed of the following:

Secretary Blas F. Ople Chairman
Department of Labor
Secretary Baltazar Aquino Member
Department of Public Highways
Secretary Arturo Tanco Member
Department of Agriculture
Secretary Alfredo Juinio Member
Department of Public Works
Secretary Jose Leido Member
Department of Natural Resources
Administrator Jesus Tanchanco Member
National Grains Authority
President Panfilo Domingo Member
Philippine National Bank

To assist the Task Force, the Rural Workers Office of the Department of Labor is hereby constituted as the Task Force Secretariat.

The Task Force shall:

(a) in coordination with the local governments and the regional development councils adopt a work-plan for the immediate amelioration of the sugar workers and their families;

(b) formulate plans and programs and set priorities for the disposition of development funds that may be made available; cda

(c) establish as it may deem necessary:

(1) a project management group to supervise the implementation of the projects and to coordinate such activities according to priorities established by the Task Force;

(2) a project monitoring group to monitor the progress of project implementation on the basis of the over-all development plan.

The Task Force is hereby authorized to call upon any department, office, agency or instrumentality of the government including the Regional Development Councils of Regions VI and VII for such assistance as may be necessary in the discharge of its functions and the attainment of its objectives; cda

The Task Force shall meet at least once a month to assess the implementation and the projects, and to monitor the implementation of these instruction. Weekly reports shall be submitted to me on the progress of the implementation of these instructions.

The Secretary of Labor shall monitor negotiations between workers and planters so that the present crisis may be met peaceably and with a minimum of antagonism. He is also directed to intensify the skills retraining program of workers and other remedial measures to enable them to find other employment opportunities.

The Secretaries of Public Works, Public Highways, Natural Resources, Agriculture, Local Government and Community Development, shall immediately implement all their respective projects already approved and funded in the affected areas. The Secretary of Agriculture is specifically instructed to initiate a livestock dispersal program for the affected sugar workers. cdtai

The Administrator of the National Grains Authority shall allow emergency rice loans to planters to enable them to restore the rice advances which were usually extended to sugar workers in the past.

The President of the Philippine National Bank shall guarantee the rice loans of sugar planters.

In coordination with the Task Force, the provincial and local government shall initiate their own projects for the benefit of the workers involved.

The Commissioner of the Budget is directed to release P2,000,000.00 from any available fund for the implementation of this Letter of Instructions on top of what the various departments and agencies may appropriate from their own respective funds.

DONE in the City of Manila, this 14th day of January, in the year of Our Lord, Nineteen Hundred and Seventy-Seven. acd