By Roy Mabasa
Philippine consul general to Madrid Adrian Cruz on Tuesday called on Filipinos in Spain to remain calm and stay positive amid the State of Alarm currently in effect due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
In a phone patch interview at the Laging Handa program of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-IED), Cruz admitted that many of the 44,000-strong Filipinos in Spain are concerned about the effect of the current lockdown on their respective jobs.
“Spain is the second home to about 44,000 Filipinos. They are concerned about the effect of the lockdown. Many are engaged in the services sector, domestic workers, and a number of them are managing small businesses,” the consul general said.
The Spanish government has declared a nationwide State of Alarm (Estado de Alarma) from March 11 to April 11, 2020, but later extended it to April 26 in a bid to flatten the COVID-19 outbreak, adding that many patients are still in serious conditions or are in the intensive care units.
Under the State of Alarm, schools have been shut down as well as restaurants, sports stadiums, retail outlets, and even non-essential government and private offices.
Cruz said there are other offices that allowed their employees to work from home or have asked them to file their temporary leaves.
He said the State of Alarm has a huge impact on Spain since many businesses have closed shops. Even local Spanish residents are losing their jobs due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
To date, the Filipino consul said there are about 136,000 individuals that are infected with the infectious disease in Spain, and more than 13,000 deaths. He, however, noted a high recovery number of 40,400.
As part of Madrid’s contingency measures to provide help to the people, Cruz said Spain issued a Royal decree unveiling an economic and fiscal package for those residing in the country.
“There are mentions here in broad details of various parts of benefits, subsidies, and pensions for those who have been temporarily suspended, or have become unemployed due to the lockdown,” he said.
With the help of the Philippine honorary consuls in Spain, Cruz said they are now trying to translate the decree to determine if Filipinos could benefit from it.
“On the part of the embassy, we try to translate the royal decree and appropriate Spanish labor laws and employment that are relevant to the ongoing crisis for the benefit of affected Filipino workers,” he added.