Over 1 million construction workers stranded, displaced due to Luzon lockdown

Maan Macapagal, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 18 2020 03:17 AM

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More than 1 million construction workers in Luzon were left stranded, hungry, and displaced due to the enhanced community quarantine that seeks to curb the fast-spreading novel coronavirus, a group said Friday. 

According to the Philippine Constructors Association, around 1.3 million construction workers were likely displaced in Luzon due to the lockdown.

Using wage rates in Metro Manila, the “probable unearned salary is about P16 billion to P18 billion for one month of stoppage" of work, the constructors group said.

Artemio Delantar, a construction worker from Tacloban, Leyte, along with 7 others from Bicol and other provinces, were left stranded in their barracks. Their group was supposed to do the roadwork on 24th Avenue in Barangay East Rembo, Makati City. 

But its construction was temporarily halted. 

Because they are paid on a daily basis, no work meant no pay for the workers. 

East Rembo barangay captain Thelma Ramirez told ABS-CBN News five construction sites in their area have stranded workers. 

“Puro sub-contractor na itong mga to eh, hindi sila makauwi kase una nga, malalayo, probinsiya, meron man silang ayuda, napakaliit,” Ramirez said. 

Ramirez said they are trying to contact the sub-contractors to inform them about the plight of the stranded workers. 

“Pinipilit naming kontakin ang kanilang mga sub-contractor, para malaman namin kung ano ang kalagayan nila. 'Yon na lang magagawa naming na sikapin naming, kahit papano, masigurado na meron silang makain,” Ramirez said. 

Joey Bon, a carpenter, is worried about his wife and 5 children in Quezon province as he is unable to send them money. 

“Hindi makadala sa pamilya ko ng pang-budget nila, paano ang pamilya ko,” Bon said. 

In Pasay, 13 workers from Burias Island in Masbate were also left stranded. They are all trying to fit in a small room where social distancing is virtually impossible. 

They also did not receive help from their contractor. 

Bobby Rondina, one of the workers, said they received food from the barangay but it wasn’t enough for all of them. 

“Binigyan kami ng barangay tatlong kilong bigas at tatlong sardinas. Isang beses lang ang binigay sa amin. Binibili naming bigas galing na lang sa aming probinsiya, sa ngayon wala na ring pera sila,” Rondina said. 

At the University of the Philippines-Diliman, 11 workers are also stranded in the construction site. 

Raymond Bautista, a helper in the construction site, said he uses a compressor as a makeshift nebulizer to help him breathe every time he has an asthma attack. 

“Nasira na po ang nebulizer na nabili ko noong isang taon. Hirap po kung hindi dahil sa bigay niyong tulong, walang makain,” Bautista said. 

Welder Eric Plata and his group said they were blessed because they were given P1,000 every week since the lockdown happened. 

“Nagpapasalamat kami sa kumpanya namin, di kami pinapabayaan,” Plata said. 

According to UP Campus barangay chairperson Zenaida Lectura, even if the workers are not their constituents, they also deserve assistance. 

“Naiintindihan ko ang paglapit nila sa barangay kaya binibigyan ko ng atensiyon. Kailangan bang nakatira lang sa barangay mo para abutan ng tulong, paano kung nagugutom na ang tao, kahit papaano dapat tulungan,” Lectura said. 

Meanwhile, an official of the Department of Social Welfare and Development said families of these carpenters will receive money in areas where they are residents. 

The families can go to DSWD and city social welfare regional centers to seek financial assistance, DSWD Undersecretary Camilo Gudmalin said.

“Ngayon kung saan yung family ng mga construction workers sila yung may lista doon at bibigyan ng subsidy. Itong mga naiwanan, yung mga stranded sa Metro Manila, pwede silang makahingi ng assistance sa DSWD pero hindi SAP (social amelioration program). Either it’s a form of family packs or financial assistance," he told ABS-CBN News.