Thursday, April 16, 2020

Labor coalition to gov’t: Get the numbers and system right before rolling out new cash aid program

DOLE execs slam 'smear drive' vs. Bello | Philippine News Agency
Photo from PNA

If government can’t get the numbers and system right, cash aid program can only go unequal. 

It is unfortunate to see the actual picture on the ground, but numbers of lockdown affected workers in the formal sector reportedf earlier by the labor department are not they really are. It is only 1.4M workers before today’s termination of the CAMP program and the introduction of a new program called wage subsidy for ‘middle income workers’.

While the P51B program is a welcome relief to about 3.4 million ‘middle income workers’, the question remains as to what will happen to the millions of poorer workers in the formal sector who were left behind in the CAMP program?  We believe that unless this gap in numbers is resolved, the new wage subsidy program will suffer the same inequality encountered in CAMP.

Adding the 1.4M CAMP beneficiaries (assuming all the stranded beneficiaries get the aid) to the targeted 3.4M wage subsidy beneficiaries will only get us to 4.8M total beneficiaries in the formal sector workers.  Again, what will happen to the remaining workers in the formal sector who were left behind by these two programs yet were also affected in varying degrees by the lockdown?

The latest figure from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) as cited by Partido Manggagawa (PM) in its earlier statement, 65% of the 42M employed persons in January 2020 are wage and salary workers. This is equivalent to 28M workers. In short, after subtracting the 4.8M actual beneficiaries, there remain 23M workers that can be considered as ‘stranded beneficiaries’ of CAMP and the wage subsidy program.

In a study presented by Marikina Rep. Stella Quimbo, an economist by profession, in introducing her P370B stimulus package bill, there are about 9M workers who are “unaffected” by the lockdown as they continue receiving their salaries such as government workers, workers in ECQ essential services, and those who work in private households.

Clearly, even if we subtract the 9M ‘unaffected’ workers from the remaining 23M, a significant number of 14M workers (74%) in the formal sector will be left behind. It also shows that only a fourth of workers in the formal sector are going to benefit from CAMP and the wage subsidy program.  We therefore demand that all CAMP applicants who were not provided support by DOLE be automatically accommodated by the DOF program.

On the other side of the coin are the 16M workers in the informal sector whose lives have only gone from bad to worse during this period.

We keep on raising this issue because we believe that unless a universal approach is utilized in providing cash aid to differentiated beneficiaries under CAMP or SAP, the majority will continue to suffer the blows of poverty and inequality during and even after the lockdown. 

Rather than continue its targeted approach which creates bottleneck and social divide, NAGKAISA! is reiterating its call for income guarantees for all those affected workers.

NAGKAISA! Labor Coalition
16 April 2020

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