Labor groups ask gov’t to allocate more funds for COVID-19 measures

Published March 23, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Leslie Aquino

The Nagkaisa labor coalition said the solution to the pandemic is the allocation of funds, and not the delegation of extra powers to the President.

“Quarantine subsidy, free mass testing and treatment, as well as adequate support to our frontliners are clearly what the working people need today,” the group said.

“Now is the time for Congress to do its part in the COVID-19 battle. It should, as a matter of obligation, allocate more funds for the frontline workers, their safety and their supplies, and subsidies for the millions in forced home quarantine.”

The labor coalition particularly asked the leadership of both houses of Congress to allocate funds for the following:

-A P10,000 quarantine subsidy to each worker in the formal and informal sector for their food and essential needs.

-P10 billion for mass testing, treatment, and adequate support to front-liners, including their PPEs, transport needs, quarantine and proper accommodation.

They also asked that government prepare the 2021 budget prioritizing measures versus pandemics and establishing a Center for Disease Control and Protection in the long term.

“As we obey social distancing policies at home, what we find sorely lacking from the President’s declaration of public health emergency and the implementation of lockdown policy is funding, which under the Constitution, is the primary duty of Congress and not of the President,” Nagkaisa said.

“We further believe that addressing this policy gap in the fight against COVID-19 does not require the granting of emergency powers to the President as realignments and new fund allocation properly belongs to Congress,” it added.

For labor group Defend Jobs Philippines, additional emergency powers for President Duterte to resolve the COVID-19 pandemic are “unnecessary.”

The group said what the Filipino workers and people need at this point are emergency responses and adequate aid from the national government, and not any form or emergency or extra special powers for the executive branch.

“As millions of Filipino workers have already lost their jobs due to the coronavirus spread and numbers of imposed enhanced community quarantines in Luzon and other regions, the government must focus its time, efforts and resources in providing immediate help and support to jobless Filipinos nationwide,” Defend Jobs Philippines Spokesperson Thadeus Ifurung said in a statement.

The group reiterated its call for the national government and the Labor Department to grant inclusive and non-discriminatory emergency cash assistance to all workers who lost their sources of income, regardless of whether they are formal or informal workers; ensure jobs security of the working people; and provide free mass testing to ensure the health and safety of the labor force and their families.