More than one million workers have been displaced due to the Luzon-wide lockdown in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, with 98 percent of almost 42,000 establishments seeking the one-time government assistance of P5,000, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Sunday.
Bello again appealed to big businesses to continue paying their workers and employees despite their being unable to work for the duration of the extended community quarantine.
Based on reports from the Department of Labor and Employment regional offices, some 1,048,649 workers in the formal sector were either affected by temporary closures or flexible work arrangements.
This figure is on top of the close to a quarter of a million informal sector workers needing assistance under several government social amelioration programs.
READ: ‘DoLE must help labor mart’
The highest displacement was recorded in Metro Manila with about 246,810 workers, followed by Central Luzon at 179,875; CALABARZON with 99,178; Davao region at 90,414 and Region 2 with 75,189; followed by Central Visayas with 51,150; Cordillera region at 46,614 and Region 10 with 46,351 and the Bicol region with 41,322.
Region 6 recorded 36,526 while MIMAROPA had 30,721 workers. The areas with the least affected workers are CARAGA at 26,981; Region 8 at 24,940; Region 9 with 24,664; Region 1 at 17,378 and Region 12 at 11,536.
Most of the affected were displaced by the temporary closure of about 31,612 establishments involving 719,649 workers, with another 10,224 enterprises resorting to flexible work arrangements which include reduction of workdays, work rotation, forced leave and work from home or telecommuting affecting 366,404 workers.
Most of those workers belong to manufacturing, hotel, restaurants and tourism-related sectors, and education.
CAMP program implementer OIC Asst. Secretary Dominique Rubia-Tutay said DOLE was already able to assist about 180,000 workers with close to P900 million. With P1.61 billion in available funds under the program, the Labor Department will reach about 322,000 workers with the assistance, Tutay said.
Meanwhile, the Kilusang Mayo Uno assailed the exclusion of furloughed overseas Filipino workers and those with “no work, no pay” status but are not terminated by their employers in the DOLE assistance program.
“This is selective compassion. Regardless if you’re terminated or furloughed or placed in floating status because of the pandemic, everyone still experiences the same crisis,” said KMU Chairperson Elmer Labog.
KMU lamented that out of the 2.3 million OFWs only 150,000 or 6.5 percent are covered by the government’s DOLE-AKAP program. “This is pitiful and very negligent,” Labog said.
For his part, Anakalusugan Rep. Michael Defensor said Congress may have to double to P60,000 the starting pay of nurses or face a severe shortage in the years ahead.
Defensor, vice chairman of the House health committee, said wealthy nations would be rushing to expand the capacities of their public health systems and stepping up their recruitment of Philippine-educated nurses once the COVID-19 pandemic is suppressed.
Defensor issued the statement soon after the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration temporarily barred the deployment of nurses and 12 other categories of allied medical professionals and technicians as the country grapples with the spread of COVID-19.
The IATF said it would review calls to withdraw the temporary overseas deployment ban on Filipino health workers after Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., labor groups, and health workers opposed the ban, saying it violates the right to travel and promotes involuntary servitude.
In the meantime, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the POEA resolution on the temporary suspension of sending Filipino health workers abroad will remain in effect.
Senator Joel Villanueva said the government should carefully study the impact of its ban on health care workers and take into consideration that these have existing contracts abroad.
“They temporarily went home for their annual vacation,” said Villanueva.
“If our government presses forward with the sweeping ban on the exit of Filipino health care workers, even if they have live contracts, our Labor department, in coordination with the Department of Health, should be prepared to take them into our health care system,” he said.
READ: DOLE to firms: Submit payroll to aid workers
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