By Mario Casayuran
Senator Christopher Go today called on the concerned agencies of the government to also provide support for displaced workers affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis, especially those in industries whose nature of business could not operate because of social distancing and community quarantine measures being imposed throughout the country.
“Dahil sa COVID-19, may mga industriya talagang hindi makapag-operate ngayon. Bawal ang pagtitipon kaya tulad nung mga nasa live events organizing, kailangan maghanap ng ibang pagkakakitaan,’’ Go said. (Due to COVID-19, there are some industries that cannot really operate now. Social gatherings are banned such as those in the live events organizing, they have to look for another source of income.)
Among displaced workers, those who are engaged in live events or ordinary workers in the entertainment industry, as well as those engaged in businesses that could operate at this time, must be given utmost attention by the government, he explained.
“Bukod pa diyan, ang mga tao sa entertainment industry ay apektado rin po, lalong lalo na ‘yung ordinaryong manggagawa tulad nung mga production crew bilang halimbawa. Ito po ‘yung mga kababayan nating bumubuhay sa industriya ng sining na ngayon ay hirap makabalik sa kabuhayan nila,’’ he said. (Apart from that, the people in the entertainment industry are also affected, especially the ordinary workers such as the production crew as an example. They’re our countrymen that give life to the industry of arts that can hardly go back to their livelihood.)
The live events industry consists of events, such as meetings, conferencing, exhibitions, concerts involving international and local artists, theatrical productions, corporate, social, cultural, fashion, sporting, and club events, weddings and family celebrations, trade fairs and exhibits, and on-ground activation and sampling activities.
“Tulungan nating mapagaan ang pinapasan ng mga nasa ganitong uri ng industriya. Wala pong dapat mapabayaan sa panahon ngayon. Magbayanihan tayo para malampasan ang krisis na ito at makabangon agad ang bawat Pilipino,’’ he pointed out. (Let’s help them ease their burden. No one should be left behind at this time. Let’s help one another so we could overcome this crisis and for every Filipino to immediately rise.)
Go also hopes that once data show more recoveries and the spread of COVID-19 is eventually controlled, more provinces and cities under Modified General Community Quarantine could now provide guidelines for these industries to resume operations in accordance with required health protocols.
The senator from Davao urged concerned government agencies, such as the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), to look into the situation of these displaced workers and ensure that there are programs that can assist them in overcoming the burden caused by the ongoing crisis.
“May mga existing programs naman po ang mga ahensya ng gobyerno para sa displaced workers. Siguraduhin po natin na hindi mapabayaan ang mga nasa industriyang ito,’’ he added. (Government agencies have existing programs for displaced workers. We will see to it that nobody in these industries will be left behind.)
Go also suggested that businesses engaged in this particular industry may be able to avail of emergency loans and financing program for micro, small and medium enterprises. DTI is at present implementing COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) program under the Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (P3) program, which aims to help enterprises stabilize or recover from losses due to the health crisis.
Through DTI’s Small Business Corporation, CARES Program is part of government relief effort for micro and small enterprises affected by COVID-19. MSEs operating for at least a year prior to March 16, 2020 and with assets not exceeding P15 million can avail of it. Micro enterprises with asset size not exceeding P3 million may borrow from P10,000 to P200,000 while small enterprises with assets not more than P15 million may apply for a loan not exceeding P500,000. Discounted interest is at 0.5% only with grace period of six months on principal payments.
Go suggested further that the Department of Social Welfare and Development can provide emergency assistance to affected individuals belonging in these industries through their Assistance for Individuals in Crisis Situations Program.
The National Live Events Coalition (NLEC) recently appealed for government assistance for their members, highlighting that the live events industry, comprised of businesses and industry professionals, institutions, agencies, technical and staging providers, concert and festival producers, wedding and social events planners, venues, performers and freelance production workforce, have faced lost opportunities and revenues due to COVID-19.