MANILA - Several manufacturers of safety gear against COVID-19 on Tuesday backed Vice President Leni Robredo in her call for additional assistance from the national government for small businesses struggling during the pandemic.
Government assistance is necessary because orders for non-medical grade personal protective equipment (PPE) dwindled after imported ones flooded the market, said manufacturers based in Antipolo City and Marikina City.
"Mahirap 'yon. Kailangan talaga namin 'yong tuloy-tuloy na hanapbuhay namin. May mga umaasa din sa aking mananahi," said gown maker-turned-PPE manufacturer Charly Vargas.
(It's difficult. We need a steady livelihood. There are tailors, seamstresses relying on me.)
The trade department is training small businesses to shift to the production of in-demand PPE suits, face masks and shields, said bag and shoe manufacturer Roweliza Landicho.
She said the government should assist small business throughout, from sourcing raw materials to connecting with potential markets.
“Maganda 'yung binibigay nilang trainings pero sana para maging sustainable, tuloy-tuloy ba, mayroon parang follow through... Sana mai-connect din nila kami sa market, katulad ng sinasabi namin na imbis na mag-import tayo ng PPEs,” Landicho said.
(The trainings they give are good, but I hope it could be sustainable, continuous, for there to be follow-through. I hope they could connect us to the market, so that just like we're told, we won't import PPEs instead.)
Aside from calling on the national government to boost assistance for small businessmen, Robredo on Monday proposed giving the 10 million poorest Filipino families P5,000 monthly for 4 months to help them cope with the pandemic.
She also suggested hiring indigent Filipinos as contact tracers, creating an unemployment insurance system, helping businesses shift to digital sales, rolling out livelihood programs for displaced migrant workers, putting up shared cell sites in areas with no signal, raising the pay of health workers, and boosting support for fisherfolk and farmers, among others.