By Mario Casayuran
Unity, cooperation, and compassion for one another are the most powerful weapons against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the Senate minority bloc said Saturday.
The bloc members – Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon and senators Francis N. Pangilinan, Leila de Lima, and Risa Hontiveros – made this observation as ‘’we are on our third day of the enhanced community quarantine.’’
The statement of the four opposition senators reads:
‘’The 60 million in Luzon, especially the 12 to 14 million in Metro Manila, most of whom are no-work-no-pay workers, are starting to feel the pressure of not earning a living and not having enough food to eat.
‘’We laud the efforts of government and private sector in working together to allow medical workers to perform their crucial task in this time of health crisis.
‘’The selfless courage of the people in the health sector are being complemented by free rides, meals, protective gear, and other supplies as they continue to be at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19.
‘’To avert food shortage, hunger, and even looting, we believe it is time to focus the spotlight as well to the other people on the frontline who are similarly critical in our day-to-day survival.
‘’They are the farmers and fisher folk who are not able to farm, fish, and sell their produce and catch due to the lockdown. If they are not earning from their produce, farmers will not till the land anymore. As they cannot immediately harvest what they sow, farmers need to continue farming and earning off farming.
‘’They are the workers in the food, medicine, and medical supply manufacturing sector who order raw materials from their suppliers, run their operations, and distribute their products. They ensure adequately filled food shelves in sari-sari stores, groceries, supermarkets, pharmacies, and hospitals.
‘’They are the drivers and logistics personnel who ferry and deliver food and other essential supplies. They are helping keep our economy — and our people — on life support during these uncertain times.
‘’We thus call on the national government to treat our food, transport, and logistics sector workers as anti-COVID front-liners too.
‘’Like our health workers, their work is essential to containing the disease.
‘’They, including our workers in the public mass transport system, should also be provided with protective gear and given hazard pay as they carry on with their jobs.
‘’Especially with suspended importation, the national government must provide both the budget and the system to keep the food supply going. It needs to ensure and beef up the food supply chain.”