DOLE urged to expand COVID-19 assistance to informal sector

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 19 2020 06:36 PM | Updated as of Mar 19 2020 07:48 PM

MANILA - The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) should expand its P5,000-assistance to workers in the informal sector who also lost their income after Luzon was put on an enhanced community quarantine to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), a senator said Wednesday.

The Labor department earlier said workers who were displaced by the temporary closure of non-essential establishments would be receive a P5,000 cash assistance from the government if their employers would submit proof that their workplace had to suspend operations due to COVID-19.

"Sa isang iglap, nawalan po ng kabuhayan ang ating mga vendors, drivers, at iba pa pang manggagawa sa informal sector. Hinihiling natin sa DOLE na kaagad magpatupad ng programa na sasalo sa ating mga informal workers," Sen. Joel Villanueva, who chairs the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resource Development said in a statement.

(In the blink of an eye, our vendors, drivers, and other workers in the informal sector lost their livelihood. We appeal to DOLE to immediately implement programs that would cover our informal workers.)

Villanueva also urged the Labor department to act on his request to expedite the implementation of the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers Program (TUPAD), an emergency employment program implemented in communities for displaced workers, seasonal workers, and even the underemployed.

Under the proposed program, informal workers displaced due to the temporary closure of non-essential businesses during the lockdown can work as support service personnel in checkpoints to help them earn during the month-long quarantine.

TUPAD beneficiaries can also help in the disinfection of public places provided that they receive adequate training and sufficient safety gear, Villanueva said.

The Philippines is under a state of calamity as the government had to access its quick response funds to procure basic necessities like food and medicine, as well as disburse cash aid for those who are expected to lose their income during the quarantine period.

Most parts of the Philippines had to temporarily seal its borders to contain the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected 217 in the Philippines. Of the COVID-19 patients in the country, 17 died, 8 recovered, while the rest are still battling the disease.