MANILA - Workers whose sources of livelihood are affected by the ongoing lockdown in Luzon because of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic will be offered alternative jobs by the government such as disinfecting homes and roads, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Wednesday.
Bello said the job offer is part of the government's emergency employment program.
Under the program, workers will be asked to work for the government and will be given minimum wage.
"Pag ikaw ay isang informal worker, nagbebenta ka ng mangga, o nagbebenta ka ng gulay, o kaya nagta-tricycle ka, at mawalan ka ng trabaho dahil dito sa enhanced community quarantine, bibigyan ka namin ng trabaho. This is good for maybe between 10 to 20 days," Bello said.
He said emergency workers will be asked to disinfect their houses and their neighborhood.
"Pero ang trabaho na ibibigay namin sa'yo, is to disinfect, unang-una 'yung bahay mo. Pangalawa 'yung kapitbahay mo at saka yung mga daan na madadaanan mo 'pag ikaw ay umuuwi at pumupunta sa trabaho mo. Ito ang trabahong ibibigay namin sa mga informal workers," he explained.
The emergency employment will also be available for formal workers, and they will be paid minimum wage.
According to Bello, the program would be similar to what was implemented in Boracay during its 6-month closure.
"All they have to do is go to the barangay officials. The barangay officials will submit their names to us, we'll include them in the list of beneficiaries and then we'll let them work. Trabaho sila ng 10 days, trabaho sila ng 20 days or 30 days and then we pay them the minimum wage," he said.
He said the process will be quick and easy since this is an ongoing program in barangays.
"Madali lang po kasi sanay na 'yung mga barangay officials diyan dahil itong programang ito, every year we do it. Every, almost every three months, nag-aano kami," Bello said.
"Remember mo 'yung closure ng Boracay? When Boracay was closed for 6 months, the restaurant workers and the hotel workers were displaced. Wala silang trabaho kasi nawala ang operations eh. So what did we do? We gave them work for 6 months," he explained.
Bello added that employees can stay at home even without the approval of their employers during the enhanced community quarantine.
"Actually kung ayaw payagan ng mga employers na hindi pumasok 'yung mga manggagawa, puwedeng hindi pumasok 'yung manggagawa. They do not have to report if they don't want to report," he said.
"Or, since we are under enhanced community quarantine, they really cannot report. They will be excused. There will be no basis for them to be disciplined," Bello added.
Bello also said the missed work days can be credited on available leaves, and people can report to DOLE any problems.
"Kahit hindi sila magre-report, puwede nilang i-charge yung kanilang absence either sa mga leave credits kung mayroon pa. Kung wala, DOLE na ngayon ang mananagot sa kanila," he said.
Meanwhile, Bello said there is no policy yet on giving mandatory hazard pay to frontline workers such as health personnel.
"Sa ngayon wala pang ganoong plano dahil siyempre kailangan din nating tingnan ang kalagayan ng ating mga employers. What is important here is that they will not be displaced because of the enhanced community quarantine," he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier appealed to big businesses to continue paying their workers as the government moved to limit work to “home arrangements” in the whole of Luzon to contain the spread of COVID-19.
He also called on the businesses to give their employees their 13th-month pay even if it’s pro-rated, or even half of their monthly salaries for them to survive the possible loss of income during the “enhanced community quarantine” period.
Luzon was placed under an enhanced community quarantine starting Tuesday which meant strict home confinement in all households, suspension of transportation lines, regulation of provision for food and essential health services, and heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce isolation procedures.
Government is also restricting travel for the duration of the quarantine period until April 12 with the exemption of health workers, and uniformed personnel on official business, especially those transporting medical supplies, laboratory specimens related to the COVID-19, and other humanitarian assistance.
The government has also called upon private establishments to provide temporary accommodations for their workers who are needed to report to work during the quarantine period.