Senator Cynthia Villar joins the clamor from other public officials as well as from the general public for the government to urgently address the situation of stranded and displaced workers in various parts of Luzon who are experiencing hunger and undue stress from being away from their families without any work and income. Majority of the said worker are employed in the construction sector.
Villar has earlier urged the government to open up the construction sector as well as agriculture and manufacturing since its workers are the most adversely affected by the ongoing community quarantine.
“I agree with those who say that there is a “humanitarian crisis in the making” in the current situation of those laborers who are not only stranded in their workplaces away from their families, but cannot help themselves and their families since they have no source of income. It’s doubly difficult for them,” said Villar
The senator recommended that on top of helping the stranded workers go back to their homes in the provinces, they should also be given the option to return to their work. “Many of them would rather stay here and continue working to provide for their families. So, those are willing to stay should be allowed to work,” she added.
According to Villar, people are increasingly getting agitated and anxious which could lead to social unrest. Thus, immediate actions are needed to alleviate the situation of the workers and their families as well.
Majority of the stranded and displaced workers are from the NCR and Calabarzon areas. Villar noted that 70 percent of the GDP of the Philippines is in NCR, Calabarzon and Central Luzon.
The construction sector accounts for 10 percent of the workforce in the country. There is an estimated 3.9 million construction workers as of 2018. The Philippine Construction Association (PCA) cited that 1.3 million workers are expected to lose or have in fact lost their jobs due to the implementation of the community quarantine.
“We should come to the aid of these displaced workers immediately to avert further problems. Let them continue their work to be able to fend for themselves and provide for their families,” said Villar. Most of them, she cited, are not qualified for the financial assistance provided by the government and are not even reached by relief efforts since they are in construction sites.
She cited that while there may still be health risks, workers who will be allowed to work are still expected to follow government-implemented health and safety protocols such as social distancing and wearing of face masks. The employers can also provide for their transport or accommodation if necessary./Stacy Ang