Almost 500,000 workers hit by lockdown
MANILA, Philippines — Close to 500,000 workers have already been affected by various quarantine lockdowns imposed on several parts of the country in just 10 days, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole).
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that, as of March 27, 9,028 establishments reported 317,171 of their workers have been displaced by temporary closures or flexible work arrangements that businesses had to impose because of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Based on preliminary field reports, another 117,890 informal sector workers have also been displaced for a total of 435,061, Bello added.
He said they are now speeding up the release of financial assistance to affected workers in both formal and informal sectors. He has directed Dole regional offices and key implementers to relax the requirements and exercise flexibility in the release of funds.
“There is no substitute to the expeditious release of the money to workers who should be benefiting from the government assistance by now,” Bello said. “All those affected should be given the necessary help, so let’s relax the requirements.”
P2B available initially
Dole administers the COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program and Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Displaced/Disadvantaged Workers-Barangay Ko, Bahay Ko to aid formal and informal sector workers during the prevailing national health emergency.An initial P2 billion has been made available for the programs, with another P5 billion eyed for the remainder of the emergency period.
A separate P1.5 billion in cash assistance package has been set aside for affected overseas Filipino workers estimated to reach 70,000.
At the same time, the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has created a technical working group to develop recommendations to resuscitate the economy after the COVID-19 crisis, according to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, IATF spokesperson.
To be led by the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), the group will include the Departments of Agriculture, Trade and Industry, Health, Education and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, as members.
The country’s real gross domestic product will slow down this year if mitigating measures are not rolled out, Neda said in its report “Addressing the Social and Economic Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Neda said the country may lose P428.7 billion to P 1.355 trillion in gross value-added, and the loss of 116,000 to 1.8 million jobs.
The government has already rolled out a P27.1 billion spending plan which includes a P14 billion boost for the tourism sector, P3 billion in scholarships for displaced workers, P2.8 billion for farmers, P2 billion for displaced workers, P1.2 billion for unemployment benefits, and P1 billion to fund small and medium enterprises.
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