Villanueva wants more gov’t subsidies to workers

Published June 9, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin


By Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Workers should be among the priorities of the government in coming up with COVID-19 recovery plan, Senator Joel Villanueva said.

Senator Joel Villanueva (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)
Senator Joel Villanueva
(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

“We urge our policymakers to consider the welfare of workers as they draw up the economic recovery plan of our country. After all, it is our workers who will fuel the engines of our economy,” the chair of the Senate labor committee said in a statement on Monday.

“The tough economic climate is already punishing workers with layoffs left and right. How do we expect our people to provide for their families if they are jobless? Our government cannot simply look away from their plight, and keep on overlooking their condition,” he added.

The senator issued the appeal as he lamented that the plight of workers has been “glossed over” in the different policies and programs implemented by the government amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“Tingi-tingi ang binigay na pondo sa Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) para sa mga programa nito (The funds for the DOLE’s programs are given in installments). Talo ang manggagawa (The workers ended up losing). Binuksan po natin ang ekonomiya simula noong Hunyo nang walang sapat na transportasyon (We opened up the economy in June without adequate transportation). Talo ulit ang mga manggagawa (Again, the workers lost),” Villanueva said.

“Sa kritikal na panahon ngayon, ang takbuhan po ng ating manggagawa ay ang gobyerno, ngunit napabayaan po ata natin sila (In a critical time like this, workers depend on the government, but we neglected them),” he added.

Villanueva said the while government assistance to businesses is also necessary, it must be hinged on their commitment to keep their workers.

He said that despite the government’s of various emergency employment programs, a significant portion of workers were still not able to receive any form of assistance from the government.

Citing government data, he said only about 657,000 workers in the formal sector of the 2.6 million workers reported to DOLE received government assistance through the agency’s COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program, which gives a one-time cash assistance of P5,000 per individual.

Some 330,000 workers in the informal sector, which is estimated to be over 30 million in 2018, benefitted from the labor department’s cash for work program called Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers.

Villanueva again called on the government to pour more funds to programs that would generate employment.