A former congressman on Tuesday broached a livelihood program for Filipinos who lost their jobs during the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Businessman and former Negros Occidental congressman Albee Benitez has urged government agencies to turn the global demand for face masks and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as an opportunity to provide jobs for the millions of Filipinos who are now stuck in their homes because of the ECQ.
Benitez said the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) can launch an online vocational training program for the production of face masks, face shields, biohazard coveralls, gloves and other PPEs.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), meanwhile, can provide the seed money for the raw materials and equipment, he added.
This could greatly help the frontliners who are constantly at risk of being exposed to the dreaded COVID-19 virus because of the lack of PPEs, Benitez said.
"I urge the DOLE and TESDA to organize a livelihood program for our people in many parts of the country who are experiencing the Enhanced Community Quarantine. A livelihood program that will also help our medical frontliners, such as the production of PPE and Face Mask Making Program. It will surely help our people who lost their jobs due to the ECQ," he said.
Since there is also a global demand for all kinds of PPEs, especially face masks, Benitez said that after the terrifying experience with COVID-19, people are now more conscious about their hygiene and their health.
This should sustain the demand for face masks, as he predicted that wearing them could become the new global trend even after the virus has been fully contained.
"I think that even after the pandemic is over, there will be a big market for these face masks. The Philippines should jump in and become one of the world's leading supplier of face masks," the entrepreneur said.
Benitez said the government should take the initiative to finance and organize livelihood programs to help the people, especially since many of them are now dependent on dole-outs as they wait until the ECQ is lifted by the government.