By Argyll Cyrus Geducos, Mario Casayuran, and Vanne Elaine Terrazola
President Duterte assured the country’s millions of workers yesterday, Labor Day, of a recovery program that will help them rise from the challenges brought about by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
In his Labor Day message, President Duterte said: “Today, we celebrate the Filipino worker whose hard work serves as the very foundation of our nation’s prosperity and growth. Globally renowned for its professional excellence and unmatched diligence, our workforce continues to benefit communities and industries across the world.”
“As all work is vital in forging a more inclusive and more progressive Philippines, may each and every Filipino rightfully enjoy the fruits of their labor and lead more productive and dignified lives,” he added.
Duterte renewed his vow to laborers to uphold their rights and urged the private sector to do their part in this endeavor.
“I take this occasion to reaffirm the government’s commitment to uphold the dignity of labor by safeguarding the rights of our workers through the humanization of laws and the equalization of social forces,” he said.
“I thus remind everyone in the business sector of their shared responsibility in improving the lives of our workers by providing them stable career opportunities and humane working conditions,” he added.
On Thursday, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Filipino workers can expect the government to launch its “recovery program” to assist those affected by the pandemic.
Roque defended the government’s programs looking after workers displaced by the quarantine, citing, in particular, the emergency subsidy program of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for displaced laborers and overseas Filipino workers.
More than 2 million workers have reportedly been displaced due to the COVID-19 lockdown. As of April 24, around 1.4 million were displaced while more than 687,000 workers had lower incomes due to alternative working arrangements of their companies.
Another 200,000 Filipino workers abroad have also been affected by lockdown measures implemented across the world.
Senators pay homage to Filipino workers Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go called on the national government and local government units (LGUs) to continue upholding the rights and promoting the welfare of Filipino workers.
Go, chairman of the Senate Health and Demography Committee also vowed to continue to support and push for measures that will further protect their rights and welfare.
He had earlier appealed for the provision of support to workers and employees of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Nagpupugay po tayo sa ating mga frontline workers, sa mga tumatalima sa panawagang tigil-bahay, kahit na po nangangahulugan ito ng kasalatan sa pagkain o pagbabago sa ating mga nakasanayan (We honor our frontline workers and those who heed the call to stay at home even if it means compromising their sustenance or their routines),” Sen. Joel Villanueva, chair of the Senate Committee on Labor, said.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian also cited the contribution of Filipino workers to the local economy.
“Big or small, these workers have been instrumental in laying and fortifying the foundation of our economy for decades. They truly are the backbone of a bright future for the country,” Gatchalian said.
Senator Nancy Binay thanked the frontliners “for their unwavering service and sacrifice.” “We say thank you and salute all of you,” she said.
Senator Leila de Lima also called on the government to “provide clear and concrete plans to help our workers get back on their feet” once the health crisis is resolved.