By Mario B. Casayuran
As the country observes Labor Day today, opposition Senator Francis N. Pangilinan said the government needs to speed up urgent as well as long-term help for the 2.2 million Filipinos rendered jobless by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak and the subsequent halt in most economic activities.
“Kakaibang Araw ng Paggawa ngayon, di pwedeng mag-sama-sama at magdiwang ang mga nagbabanat ng buto sa mga factory, office, at kalsada, maging sa mga bukid, dagat, at construction site. Dahil sa ECQ, 2.2 milyon na ang nawalan ng kinabubuhay, kabilang na ang tinatayang 200,000 na OFWs (overseas Filipino workers),” Pangilinan said. (This is Labor Day is odd because workers in the factories, offices and even those in the fields, seas and construction sites cannot meet to celebrate. Because of COVID-19, some 2.2 million have lost their jobs, including the 200,000 OFWs.)
Today is also the first day of the third extension of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), he noted.
“We welcome the labor department’s workplace protection and COVID-19 prevention plan, as well as its recovery plan to create one million jobs in the provinces. Kailangang madaliin ito,” he added. (This should be accelerated.)
On Thursday, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the recovery plan under discussion would also provide “a three-month wage subsidy to workers in micro and small-scale enterprises (MSMEs), including those in the ‘gig’ economy and members of the mass media.”
“Ang mabilisang pagresponde sa pamamagitan ng cash aid o wage subsidy ang magsasalba sa gutom sa mga pamilya ng mga manggagawa habang nakikipagbunuan tayo sa krisis pangkalusugang ito,” Pangilinan said. (The speedy response by way of cash aid or wage subsidy will save the families of our workers while we try to save ourselves from this health crisis.)
At the same time, Pangilinan lauded all workers, especially front-liners and including those who work from home, and those who are hustling to survive mostly through micro-entrepreneurship
“Nagbibigay-pugay tayo sa lahat ng working class o uring manggagawa, lalo na ang mga nasa frontline, at kabilang ang mga naka-work from home at mga nakikipagsapalaran sa pagtitinda. Dahil sa kanila, hindi lubusang huminto ang ating ekonomiya, at mayroon pang mahahalagang kalakal at serbisyo na nakakaabot sa mga tahanan natin,” he said. (We salute the working class and workers, particularly those in the frontlines, including those who work at home and those who struggle in the markets. Because of them, our economy did not fully stop and other services or trade whose products reach our homes.)
“Sa ating unti-unting pagharap sa ‘new normal’ matapos ang mga linggong may economic lockdown, ang ating mga manggagawa ang magiging pinakamahalagang elemento sa pagbangon muli ng ekonomiya at muling pagtaguyod sa ating buhay at kabuhayan,” Pangilinan said. (As we slowly approach a ‘’new normal’’ after weeks of economic lockdown, our workers are the most important element in our economic development and the improvement of our lives and livelihood.)