With the announcement made by Philippine Airlines (PAL) that it has laid off 300 of its personnel, the government cannot afford to be complacent in addressing the impacts of the COVID-19 on the economy, Senator Sonny Angara said on Sunday.
“We have been spared from deaths caused by COVID-19 but sadly the pandemic has taken away the jobs of 300 hardworking men and women of our country’s flag carrier,” Angara said.
“There is no end in sight yet and more countries are implementing drastic measures to keep their citizens safe, including our own. Our authorities should prepare for the worst and insulate, not only our people from the virus, but also our industries from being downed by COVID-19,” he added.
As a first step, Angara said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) should already be conducting a survey of all companies that are laying off its workers due to a slowdown of economic activity, be it COVID-19-related or other factors.
Not all companies are the size of PAL, which could afford to provide separation packages to its affected employees. There are smaller players, particularly those in the tourism sector such as the tour guides, bed and breakfast operators and vehicle rentals who need the foreign visitors to put food on their tables.
“Para sa mga kababayan natin na nawalan na ng hanapbuhay dahil sa pagkalugi ng kanilang kumpanya o sector, may mga tulong pinansyal na nakaloob sa ating Department of Labor and Employment na pwedeng gamiting pantawid habang wala pang nahahanap na kapalit na trabaho,” Angara said.
Under the 2020 General Appropriations Act, the DOLE has P112.62 million for its Adjustment Measures Program and P6.8 billion for its Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers or TUPAD.
“Ang mga programang ito ay nagbibigay ng pansamantalang tulong lamang. Mas mahalaga na magkaroon tayo ng mas marami pang mga industriya sa bawat rehiyon, bayan o komunidad na tuloy-tuloy ang pagbibigay ng trabaho sa ating kababayan at tutulong sa pag unlad ng ekonomiya,” Angara said.
“Now more than ever our entire government should work together in making our domestic industries stronger, more competitive, productive and resilient. This way they will be less prone to external shocks and continue to provide jobs to our people, uplift their communities and bring the Philippines closer to being an industrialized nation,” Angara added./Stacy Ang