In light of the ongoing community quarantine placed on Luzon initially, then followed by the declaration of a state of calamity on the entire Philippines, thousands of Filipinos are threatened of going without any source of income during the period set by the government to address the issue of COVID-19 local transmissions.
This is the result of communities being barred from any unnecessary movement, curfews set in place, as well as temporarily shutting off businesses to quell the contagion in the country.
DOLE to Assist Thousands of Workers Out of Jobs due to Community Quarantine
According to the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), at least 6,000 workers in Metro Manila are out of work and without income for a month due to the imposition of community quarantine in the region, as shared in a report by the Philippine Star.
As per TUCP spokesman Alan Tanjusay, based on monitoring, 6,000 workers are now under work suspension and the figure could still go up.
Citing initial data reaching TUCP, Tanjusay said 68 commercial establishments have temporarily closed down because of the community quarantine, while 21 have permanently folded.
For his part, Labor Undersecretary Benjo Benavidez shared that the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is set to implement a PHP 2-billion program providing financial assistance to workers affected by COVID-19.
In a public briefing, Benavidez said: “We have already earmarked a P2 billion budget and soon we will come out with the guidelines who are covered by the financial assistance.”
Benavidez added that for workers to protect themselves from COVID-19, they may not report for work and choose to use their leave credits.
He explained that those without leave credits but must undergo quarantine will be provided financial assistance by DOLE
Benavidez added that under the program of DOLE, qualified workers will be provided a monthly subsidy.
Benavidez reiterated that the financial assistance will be provided to all workers, regardless of their employment status.
This means that whether they are ‘no work, no pay,’ contractual, or regular workers, all will be covered by our financial assistance program.
Commenting on this, Tanjusay pointed out that there are about five million “no work no pay” workers in Metro Manila.
In line with this, TUCP is set to meet with DOLE and the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) to address the impact of COVID on workers.
“We are meeting with DOLE and ECOP separately to bring a solution to these problems. Government and employers have to share the burden,” Tanjusay explained.
Furthermore, the TUCP also requested the government to provide discount caravans in communities, so low-paid workers could buy cheaper-priced food.
Meanwhile, the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) said the government should prioritize mass testing in efforts to protect healthy people, including workers, and enable them to continue earning income for their families.
Commenting on this, Sen. Joel Villanueva said the government has been pulling all stops to cover the needs of its workers, from regular, plantilla employees down to contractual workers whom the lawmaker described as the most vulnerable in the crisis because of the “no work, no pay” policy.
On March 16 (Monday), Villanueva wrote a letter to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to call for accessing the Adjustment Measures Program (AMP) and implementing a modified Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers Program (TUPAD), two safety net programs for workers in the private sector.