Senator Win Gatchalian urges public and private sectors to ensure survival of disadvantaged communities
Senator Win Gatchalian has called on both public and private sectors to ensure the survival of disadvantaged communities, particularly the daily wage earners.
Now that the country is in the midst of a deadly public health crisis, he said protecting them is a shared responsibility following the declaration of an “enhanced community quarantine” in Luzon over the coronavirus pandemic.
Gatchalian noted that the current condition threatens the survival of daily wage earners and members of the poor and disadvantaged communities.
The directive from the Palace calls for strict quarantine in all households, cessation of work, and regulation of food provision and essential health services.
One concern that Gatchalian raised is the adequacy of foo supply.
While all local government units are expected to supply food to daily wage earners in their respective localities for the next 30 days, Gatchalian warned government resources will not be enough to feed these workers in the long term, especially in the case of a prolonged enhanced community quarantine.
For his part, Senator Francis Pangilinan said this should be complemented by intensified delivery of goods and services especially to poor families in need of food, clean water, medicine and other essential supplies.
He said should not be hard with adequate produce of rice, vegetables, and other agricultural products by Filipino farmers. Otherwise they will go to waste and rot away due to the lockdown.
The Sagip Saka Law mandates all government entities to directly purchase agricultural and fisheries products from local farmers and fisherfolk enterprises.
He related that for supplies for its feeding programs such as rice, fruits, vegetables, and other agricultural products, local government units, in coordination with the Department of Agriculture and other concerned agencies, may directly deal with farmers and fisherfolk, eliminating middlemen who usually pad prices.
On the other hand, Pangilinan said this the time where the private sector should step in, especially large companies, to complement efforts and resources by the government to ensure these workers’ survival.
“Ano ba ang mas gusto natin, tulungang mabigyan ng pagkain ang mga tao ngayon at iba pa nilang pangangailangan o mas madaming pasyente ang gagamutin natin in the next 6 months,” asked Gatchalian.
He said existing partnerships between private firms and government agencies should be leveraged in achieving this goal such as the companies’ programs on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
Since these programs are already established, Gatchalian said that they provide readily available channels, including community partnerships, which will allow more efficient distribution of aid.
“This is the best opportunity to relive the spirit of bayanihan. I urge the private sector, especially those large companies, to help provide food and other necessities to our fellow Filipinos”, Gatchalian added.
The lawmaker called on private firms to uphold workers’ welfare by implementing more humanitarian policies. Aside from the implementation of policies like remote work scheme, Gatchalian also called for the suspension of the no-work, no-pay policy to help keep daily wage earners afloat while they are unable to render service.
For those who are in the informal economy, Gatchalian eyes the provision of unemployment financial assistance.
According to Gatchalian, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) should identify potential beneficiaries of this financial assistance scheme.
Meanwhile, Senator Grace Poe urged the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infections Disease to include informal sector workers in the programs designed to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the local economy.
She reminded the task force handling the coronavirus crisis that members of the informal economy, who rely on unstable means of livelihood, are now more vulnerable than ever.
Families of informal sector workers should also be among the beneficiaries of food packs and relief assistance to help them tide over this crisis.
Poe made the appeal following an announcement by President Rodrigo Duterte’s economic team that the government was rolling out a P27.1-billion package to aid frontliners fight the novel coronavirus outbreak and provide economic relief to sectors affected by the pandemic.
Citing data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, Poe noted that roughly 650,000 Filipinos are engaged in low-paying jobs in the informal sector and they contribute around P5.013 trillion to the economy or around one third of the country’s gross domestic product growth.
“They have given so much to the Philippine economy, yet they are not covered by social security. It’s only fair that they are given adequate assistance during this difficult period,” she said.
To date, COVID-19 has already infected 142 and killed 12 in the Philippines. Globally, data from the World Health Organization shows that the number of confirmed cases has exceeded the 150,000 mark./Stacy Ang