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SUBIC BAY FREEPORT —Registered business locators operating at the Subic Bay free port were reminded to comply with labor laws and other government regulations on wages and benefits.

The reminder came as the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) suspended the operation of a company here for various labor violations.

SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma Eisma said the agency “would not hesitate to cancel the registration” of business establishments here if they exploited their workers or failed to abide with set employment practices.

The SBMA understands the difficulties that companies go through because of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, but these difficulties cannot be an excuse for unfair labor practices,” Eisma said on Friday.

We have given all Subic companies all the help we can give during the pandemic, including relief measures so they can weather the economic slowdown. But we expect them to pay this forward, at least to their workers,” Eisma added.

The SBMA chief issued this warning as the agency suspended the Certificate of Registration and Tax Exemption (CRTE) of 1 Aim High Security Agency, Inc., a registered business locator which employs private security personnel assigned to other establishments here.

The SBMA, through its Labor Department, also issued on Thursday a Cease-and-Desist Order to 1 Aim High for the company’s failure to address violations that the SBMA had indicated in its Notice of Inspection Results in July 14 last year.

SBMA Labor Department manager Melvin Varias said the firm was found to have failed to pay the following: overtime premium during regular days and holidays to workers who worked for 12 hours; special holiday pay; night differential pay; rest day premium; and underpayment of regular holiday pay to employees who worked on April 9 last year, which was a regular Philippine holiday.

Varias said 1 Aim High was given five days to comply upon receipt of the Notice of Inspection Results last year, but it was only on February 24 this year that the agency’s owner-president Romeo Maningding Jr. appeared before the SBMA to manifest intent to comply and to pay all fines incurred during the period of non-compliance.

Still, the firm failed to honor its commitments, thus prompting the SBMA Labor Department to recommend the suspension or revocation of the company’s CRTE, Varias said.

In a meeting last June 22, the SBMA Board of Directors approved the suspension of 1 Aim High’s CRTE until such time that the firm proved its full compliance with SBMA findings contained in the July 14, 2020 Notice of Inspection Results.

Varias said this was the first time that the SBMA suspended the CRTE of a company registered in the Subic Bay Freeport because of labor violations. “We want this suspension to be a lesson for others, so that they won’t dare to commit the same mistakes and not abuse their employees,” Varias added.

(MAIN PHOTO: Lawyer Melvin Varias, head of the SBMA Labor Department, posts a Notice to Cease and Desist at the office of 1 Aim High Security Agency to implement the suspension of the company’s Certificate of Registration and Tax Exemption due to various labor violations.)

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