Economic relief for workers urged amid COVID-19

The workers need economic packages such as a month’s worth of salary that should be subsidized by the government or their company, moratorium on electricity and water bill collections or one month subsidy for these utilities.

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Legislators from Makabayan bloc are pushing for economic packages for workers who are hardest hit by COVID-19 Metro Manila-wide quarantine.

House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate chided Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo for saying, “Walang namamatay sa gutom. Ang isang buwan, hindi ka pa mamamatay.” (No one dies from hunger. You won’t die in one month.)

“Secretary Panelo should stop insulting workers and instead look for ways to mitigate the crisis the country is facing,” Zarate said.

Zarate said the workers need economic packages such as a month’s worth of salary that should be subsidized by the government or their company, moratorium on electricity and water bill collections or one month subsidy for these utilities.

The Davao-based legislator also called for moratorium on house and office rentals as well as tax collections, suspension and transfer of set schedules in March to April for appointments in government offices like passports, visas, among others.

“These measures should be done so that workers would not have to risk their lives and health just to eke out a living,” Zarate said.

The legislator also called for additional P1,000 pension increase for Social Security System (SSS), saying the elderly are the most susceptible to COVID-19. He added that the social pension should also immediately be increased by at least P500.

Zarate also recommends hazard pay or double salary for frontline responders to COVID-19 cases as well as journalists covering the COVID-19 cases, garbage collectors and other workers who keep Metro Manila clean and sanitized.

ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro, meanwhile, urged the the Department of Trade and Industry to make sure that there is no manipulation of prices of basic goods and provide suggested retail prices.

Castro said the Department of Social Welfare and Development should also be prepared to provide relief and social benefits to support the poor and vulnerable sectors of society.

She called on the Department of Labor and Employment to ensure protection for workers are still required to work. She said occupational safety and health standards should cover the workers’ travel as COVID-19 risks.”

Other countries have taken steps to cushion the impact of the disease outbreak on their economies. In South Korea, government is considering giving out “spending coupons” for people in low-income bracket.  Malaysia, meanwhile, allotted US$4.74 billion for economic stimulus package for businesses and affected individuals. The Australian government has also allotted $11.4 billion economic package for its citizens. ()

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