By Genalyn Kabiling
In observance of Labor Day today, May 1, the government is expected to launch its “recovery program” to assist the country’s workforce affected by the coronavirus crisis.
The latest government package for the local workers will be announced amid efforts to mitigate the debilitating impact caused by the coronavirus pandemic on the local economy and the people.
“Mag-unveil tayo ng recovery plan para sa ating manggagawa (We will unveil our recovery plan for the workers). It will be announced on May 1,” Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said during a virtual press briefing Thursday.
The Palace official said they respect the reported plans of some groups to hold Labor Day protests online but he defended the government’s programs looking after the welfare of workers displaced by the quarantine restrictions.
He cited that the government has provided financial aid and emergency employment to affected workers, including those in small businesses.
“We respect the workers’ right to speak out and voice their grievances although you’ve seen that during the challenge posed by COVID-19, DOLE has launched many programs for the workers,” he said.
Apart from the DOLE programs, Roque said workers have also benefitted from the social amelioration program and small business wage subsidy program.
Roque, meantime, reminded the groups planning to launch Labor Day protests about the ban on mass gatherings during the quarantine period. He said these groups should observe the government’s quarantine measures for their own safety and health.
“I’d like to remind that under ECQ, physical gathering is prohibited. You may protest online if you want. Let us not violat the ECQ because it will be a bigger threat to public health,” he said.
More than two million workers have reportedly been displaced after many businesses have shut down or reduced operations due to the coronavirus lockdown. As of April 24, around 1.4 million were displaced due to temporary closures of establishments 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.
In his weekly report to Congress last Monday, the President said the government so far spent ₱1.74 billion to provide financial aid to 349,354 affected workers in the formal sector.
The government also set aside ₱1.5 billion for assistance program for 135,720 OFWs affected by the pandemic.