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Guidelines set for migrant sugar workers returning to Negros Occ

A group of “sacadas”, or migrant sugarcane workers, traveling back home to Panay island after working in Negros Occidental in 2020*

The Negros Occidental provincial government has set the rules for arriving migrant sugarcane workers amid the continuing threat of the coronavirus disease 2019, ahead of the start of the crop year in the coming weeks.

Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson issued Executive Order 21-42, series of 2021, Tuesday night, with specific instructions for individual planters and planters associations regarding the return of sugarcane plantation workers.

“In the light of forthcoming sugarcane crop season for 2021-2022, there will be an expected influx of migrant sugarcane workers. Hence, there is a need to issue proactive guidelines to prevent the potential surge of Covid-19 cases in the province,” Lacson said.

Each year, at least 5,000 cane cutters, also known as “sacadas”, from Antique work in sugarcane plantations in Negros Occidental, the country’s top sugar-producing province.

Individual planters are directed to submit the list of migrant workers they require to their association, which includes the names of the workers, basic information, place of assignment, and preferred date of transport to Negros Occidental.

The planters association will then endorse the list to the provincial government for proper coordination.

When entering the province, migrant sugarcane workers must present a travel coordination permit issued by the Safe, Swift, and Smart (S-PaSS) travel management system, as well as a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result valid for 72 hours from the date of swab sample extraction.

Those who cannot present a negative RT-PCR test result will be required to submit to a swab test upon arrival.

For every migrant sugarcane worker who will avail of the service, the planter is required to deposit P1,500 as donation to the provincial government to aid in the purchase of RT-PCR test kits.*PNA

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