Duterte urged to call for special Congress session to pass 'ayuda', wage subsidy bills

House deputy minority leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate on Saturday, May 1, called on President Duterte to call for a special session of Congress to fast track the approval of their so-called P10,000 ‘’Ayuda Bill" and the bill providing for P100 a day wage subsidy for workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

House of Representatives (MANILA BULLETIN File photo/Alvin Kasiban)

“Our workers are hungry and in dire need and the government should provide aid for them. After all, according to government data itself, President Duterte has borrowed billions of pesos for COVID response and it’s about time that these funds be given to those who need it most instead of useless projects like NTF-ELCAC (National Task Force to end Local Communist Armed Conflict)”, said Zarate, one of the authors of the bills, as the country observes Labor Day.

“Actually because government failed to control the rising inflation, the P100/daily wage subsidy is only giving back to the workers what they lost in terms of real wages due to rising prices of basic commodities. This would not only help the workers, but could contribute as a multiplier effect on the economy and help small business every time the workers spend this amount for their daily needs. A hungry people and those in dire need could exacerbate the pandemic because people are forced to go out more often to look for income or food," he added.

Zarate said the proposed P100-per-day wage subsidy would complement the proposed P10,000 cash aid for low-income families.

"There is now a need to fast track this for the millions of families to have additional aid to weather this crisis. It is imperative, thus, that President Duterte should immediately call for a special session of Congress and certify the P100 wage subsidy and P10K ‘’Ayuda’’ bills as urgent," he appealed.

Bayan Muna chairman Neri Colmenares also expressed his support for the bills and urged government to follow Vietnam as a model for COVID response and aid.

“Actually, President Duterte has the capacity to give subsidy to workers, small business, the farmers and other marginalized sectors considering the trillions of pesos he has borrowed using COVID as justification. The Philippines must follow the COVID response of Vietnam which even has a lower GDP (gross domestic product) than the Philippines," Colmenares said.

Vietnam, he further noted, has supposedly given US$ 77 or P3,850.00 per month to all workers, including part-time workers, forced to take unpaid leave or whose contracts were suspended. It also provides unemployment insurance to displaced workers and a US $43/month (P2,150) aid to workers are not qualified for unemployment insurance.

"Vietnam mainly funds their COVID response and is not dependent on loans, while Pres. Duterte is estimated to have borrowed at least P3 trillion for his COVID response,’’ he also pointed out.

“If Vietnam can do it, we can do it. All we need is a competent president who knows how to handle a health emergency and the needs of the people," Colmenares said.