By Hannah L. Torregoza
Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Sunday, June 21, urged the government to address the needs of fathers who were rendered jobless by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Pangilinan made the call as the nation celebrates Father’s Day, saying the government needs to urgently address the problems of hunger and job security among the “padre de pamilya” by jumpstarting the economy.
“Dapat sana ay masaya ang Father’s Day, pero sa harap ng pandemya at sa makupad, kulang, at palpak na pagharap ng gobyerno sa problemang ito, patong-patong ang hirap at pasakit na nararamdaman ng maraming Pilipino, kabilang na ang mga tatay (Father’s Day is supposed to be a happy day, but amid the pandemic and the slow, inadequate response of the government to this problem, Filipinos, especially fathers, are experiencing so much problems and difficulties),” he said.
Pangilinan pointed out that the lockdown is almost 100 days, and ordinary Filipinos and their basic concerns have largely been ignored by the government in the ongoing health and economic crisis.
“Hanggang ngayon, walang malinaw na plano at aksyon sa pagsugpo ng pandemya, na sabi ng World Health Organization (WHO) ay nasa isang ‘new, dangerous phase’ ngayon (Until now, we still have no clear action or plan on how we are supposed to stop this pandemic, which the WHO said is now in a ‘new and dangerous phase’),” he said.
“Pero sa kabila nito, kulang pa rin ang testing at contact tracing para sana maipagpatuloy na ang paghahanap-buhay ng milyong-milyong nawalan ng pagkakakitaan dahil sa lockdown (But in spite all this, we still lack testing and contact tracing which we hoped the government would do for the millions of people who lost their jobs and livelihoods due to the lockdown),” he added.
Pangilinan noted many breadwinners are still stuck in the city after the lockdown and even after it was eased.
The government’s lack of foresight and action to address the daily vital concerns of thousands of locally stranded individuals (LSIs) are hurting ordinary Filipinos more.
Pangilinan, whose office launched a project to help LSIs, pointed out there were many farmers who took the risk and went to Metro Manila to work as construction workers but were stranded in the city when the lockdown was imposed.
These farmers, he said, want to return to their home provinces where they can survive.
“Hirap na hirap ang mga tatay (at nanay) sa kakaisip paano mapapakain ang mga anak. Nasasaid na ang mga savings ng nawalan ng trabaho. Marami na nga ang hindi na makakapag-enrol ng mga anak sa private schools (Our fathers and mothers are worried where to find food for their children. Their savings are depleted because they lost jobs. Many of them cannot enroll their children in private schools),” he noted.
The government, he said, should not only rely on financial assistance to help those affected by the pandemic but also set clear goals on how to jumpstart the economy and restore peoples’ livelihoods.
For one, the senator said, the government should allow jeepney, bus, and tricycle drivers to fully operate.
Pangilinan warned the combination of pandemic, hunger, and joblessness are a recipe for disaster.
“Government has to act fast and smart. It has to address those issues quickly and effectively, and with compassion, bayanihan— not with a militarist, strongman mindset,” the lawmaker stressed.