Treat food, logistics and transport sector workers as anti-COVID front-liners–Senators

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To avert food shortage and hunger in the country, Senators have urged  on Saturday to treat food, logistics, and transport sector workers as anti-COVID-19  front-liners.

“To avert food shortage, hunger, and even looting, we believe it is time to focus the spotlight as well to the other people on the frontline who are similarly critical in our day-to-day survival,” said a joint statement issued by Senators Leila de Lima, Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros and  Francis Pangilinan on “COVID Heroes.”

The senators cited them as the farmers and fisher folk who are not able to farm, fish, and sell their produce and catch due to the lockdown.

If they are not earning from their produce, farmers will not till the land anymore. As they cannot immediately harvest what they sow, farmers need to continue farming and earning off farming, they said.

They are the workers in the food, medicine, and medical supply manufacturing sector who order raw materials from their suppliers, run their operations, and distribute their products.

They ensure adequately filled food shelves in sari-sari stores, groceries, supermarkets, pharmacies, and hospitals, they said.

They are the drivers and logistics personnel who ferry and deliver food and other essential supplies. They are helping keep the economy — and the people — on life support during these uncertain times, the senators said.

“We are on our third day of the enhanced community quarantine. The 60 million in Luzon, especially the 12 to 14 million in Metro Manila, most of whom are no-work-no-pay workers, are starting to feel the pressure of not earning a living and not having enough food to eat,” said the statement.

“We laud the efforts of government and private sector in working together to allow medical workers to perform their crucial task in this time of health crisis,” the senators said.

The senators said the selfless courage of the people in the health sector are being complemented by free rides, meals, protective gear, and other supplies as they continue to be at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19.

“We thus call on the national government to treat our food, transport, and logistics sector workers as anti-COVID front-liners too,” the senators appealed.

“Like our health workers, their work is essential to containing the disease,” they said.

They, including workers in the public mass transport system, should also be provided with protective gear and given hazard pay as they carry on with their jobs.

Especially with suspended importation, the national government must provide both the budget and the system to keep the food supply going. It needs to ensure and beef up the food supply chain, the senators said.

“Our unity, cooperation, and compassion for each other are the most powerful weapons against this disease,” the senators said./Stacy Ang

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