By Leslie Ann Aquino
Instead of starting a new wage subsidy scheme, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) has called on President Duterte to increase the funding of the COVID-19 Adjustment Measure Program (CAMP) of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
TUCP President Raymond C. Mendoza said in a statement that increasing the funding for DOLE-CAMP is more “practical, simpler and faster”, as there are already hundreds of thousands of applications for financial assistance that have been processed.
“If it is true that the funds of DOLE for CAMP have already been depleted, topping that off with additional funds would be simpler and more logical to continue the subsidy for workers for after all, the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) employees are the priority (sectors) under CAMP,” he said.
“We cannot understand why the DOLE CAMP, which has been made simple to ensure that the cash subsidy immediately reached the hands of minimum wage earners (MWEs) during this emergency, has to be stopped and replaced with a beneficiary-limiting and complicated Small Business Wage Subsidy Program,” added Mendoza.
The TUCP official said what is urgently needed now is for the government to immediately put additional money in the hands of as many workers who are adversely affected by the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) measures beyond CAMP’s cash subsidy of P5,000 that they have received.
“What is needed is for the government to increase funding to cover as many minimum and below minimum wage earners and ensure that the money is immediately in the hands of workers for the duration of the lockdown,” said Mendoza.
“The Department of Finance wage subsidy which involves too many agencies – the DOF, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), and the Social Security System (SSS) – makes it complicated for small businesses and workers to qualify, will not address the urgency of the need to provide subsidy to the workers,” he added.
TUCP Vice President Luis Corral said that the DOF wage subsidy is complicated.
“Under the DOF program, access to the aid is made more difficult with the requirement of having an SSS card which thousands of workers do not have,” he said.
“We are all aware that in real life, many MSME employers do not remit SSS contributions for an estimated 70% of their respective employees. DOF will have no way of determining who these workers are since their names will not appear at all in the SSS alphabetized list of members. So in the end, the DOF will end up excluding hundreds of thousands of workers from receiving the wage subsidy.” added Corral.
On April 16, DOLE announced that it would no longer accept applications from employers of formal sector workers for CAMP, as the funds for the program are nearing depletion.
It was also announced that the wage subsidy would now transition to the new wage subsidy program formulated by the DOF.