Philippine business and labor groups have passed a joint resolution calling on the Duterte administration to act on 11 recommendations, including addressing corruption and passage of Bayanihan 3, to ensure safe reopening of the domestic economy and protect lives.

The 10 groups under the Leaders’ Forum signed the resolution amid the further easing of mobility restrictions in the National Capital Region and allowing more economic sectors to reopen at higher operating capacity.

In a statement, the groups listed 11 recommendations for important and urgent interventions by the government.

These recommendations include: immediately action on the demands of our health care workers (HCWs) for protection and mandated special risk allowance (SRA) and other benefits, and hire additional HCWs as provided under the Bayanihan law and as demanded by the prevailing emergency situation; step up the vaccination program; enhance capacity for free testing and treatment by increasing the budget and personnel for this program; mandate the use of single technology-based contact tracing application for easier consolidation of data; rapidly expand capacities for isolation and treatment by setting up more COVID-19 facilities with ample support of HCWs; and ensure that all those who would be hospitalized are fully covered by the Philhealth, and for the latter to immediately resolve outstanding issues with private hospitals.

In addition, the groups urged the Duterte administration to provide guaranteed income based on cost of living and other factors for all workers who would need to be quarantined; allow full operation of public transportation and step-up the use of service contracting, including salaried transport workers, by infusing more funds and by working with local government units (LGUs), transport cooperatives, and corporations to ensure enforcement of health protocols in all means of public transport; provide funds to LGUs to enable them to extend ayuda to all those affected by lockdowns; certify as urgent Bayanihan 3 and legislate the same in the soonest possible time; and continuously address corruption issues.

“We maintain that while the government has gone into series of lockdowns and bubble experiments, it has yet to roll out a better system of assistance and ayuda for business and workers and a safe reopening of establishments keeping in mind #BalikTrabahongLigtas for our workers,” the groups said.

“To emphasize, we strongly believe that our health and economic frontliners deserve a better solution – one that would not sacrifice the workers and their families, and a system that is based on a well-thought-out strategy grounded on science and urgent social needs.”

In saying this, the groups pointed out that under the continuing pandemic, workers, both in the health and economic frontlines, face the highest risk of getting infected and losing their jobs either temporarily or permanently. Meanwhile, businesses, especially the 99.96 percent micro, small, and medium enterprises, continue to be under threat as goods and people mobility remain to be hampered by ongoing quarantine restrictions.

They also noted of the employment statistics showing the magnitude of the business and jobs crises, but stressed that at the enterprise and household levels, the condition is far worse than many can imagine.

“This has exacerbated the economic and health issues that we are struggling with, as more people suffer mental strain too in various levels,” they said.

Given these considerations, the Leaders Forum, an institutionalized social dialogue mechanism between employers and labor established under the “Strengthening Bipartite Relations Project” signed the Joint Resolution on COVID-19 Response and Economic Recovery of the Leaders Forum for submission to the Office of the President.

The Leaders Forum is composed of business organizations such as the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP), and Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc., and labor groups such as the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, Federation of Free Workers, and Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa, Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc., Makati Business Club, Management Association of the Philippines, and Partido Manggagawa.