In the spirit of containing and stopping the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), labor group Defend Jobs Philippines expressed apprehension over the Metro Manila lockdown which was announced by President Rodrigo Duterte during his presidential address to the nation amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Despite the group’s position, the group called on the government, particularly the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) not to abuse its power and respect the rights of the people upon implementation of the lockdown.
They also suggested that instead of mobilizing the AFP and PNP, they see it logical for the government to mobilize cause-oriented groups, socio-civic organizations and other civilian groups for its war against COVID-19.
“The NCR lockdown must not be used and abused by persons in authority to curtail freedom and civil liberties of the people. Our workers rights for their job security, right to livelihood and safe workplaces must be on top of government’s priority during the lockdown,” said Thadeus Ifurung, Defend Jobs Philippines spokesperson, in a statement on Friday.
He continued, “We will be keenly watching every move of the Duterte government. We hope that the extreme measures that will be taken up by the State will only be aimed against the virus and not to the rights of our people.”
Defend Jobs Philippines also told the government that the security of the workers to continue their work must be ensured during the entire duration of the lockdown.
They pointed out that the working people must continually receive their salaries in whichever temporary work set-up does the government requires within the confinement period.
They added that Duterte and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III must impose a “No Retrenchment Policy” amid the COVID-19 outbreak and that the State and corporations must provide emergency financial support for contractuals under “no work, no pay” policies, both in the public and the private sector as well as financial aid for poor Filipino families who are the most vulnerable sector over the COVID-19 outbreak.
The group also urged the government to provide free test kits and accessible services to workers and the entire population.
“Since Duterte has been bragging that the government has enough money to fund its battle against COVID-19, it must rechannel the unused intelligence funds of the President to provide all the necessary needs of the people,” the group said./ Stacy Ang