President Duterte’s downplaying of the impact of the new surge in COVID-19 cases is unsettling rather than reassuring, the labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) said in a statement Tuesday, as the rise in new cases of infection is happening in the face of vaccine shortage and persistent unemployment.
“Kung ang kalapit nating bansa ay nakaalpas na sa pandemya matapos ang isang taon, tapos tayo ay tumataas pa ang kaso, meron tayong problema: MALAKI, hindi maliit,” declared PM Chair Renato Magtubo on his social media post.
Magtubo, who is also a City Councilor of Marikina, said this is no time for leaders to understate a lingering problem especially if this leadership is facing a backlash over its mishandling of the crisis over the last twelve months.
The President’s statement came after the #DutertePalpak hashtag trended online on Monday, coinciding with the anniversary of the declaration of hard lockdown in the National Capital Region (NCR).
It can also be recalled that when the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 as a global pandemic, Duterte even poked fun at the virus, saying it will die a natural death even without a vaccine. He also introduced using gasoline for sanitizing facemasks.
“Mahirap nang bolahing muli ang mamamayan ngayon, lalo na ang milyong manggagawa na matapos ma-lockdown at mawalan ng trabaho noong nakaraang taon ay naka-lockout pa rin ngayon at nagtitiis sa gutom,” said Magtubo.
According to PM, aside from the 4.5 million jobless workers in 2020, many remain on a ’floating status’ after losing their jobs last year. And because they are out of work yet not being terminated, their status remains ‘employed but not at work’. The group said employers resort to floating their workers indefinitely to avoid paying them separation benefits.
Magtubo said the re-imposition of curfew, or worse, a new hard lockdown would discourage more workers to find new jobs or for businesses to resume full operations.
“So, hindi ito maliit na problema, Mr. President. Ang totoong nakita kasi ng manggagawa sa nakalipas na taon ay ang maliit ninyong solusyon,” concluded Magtubo.
PM, together with Nagkaisa labor coalition, have been pushing for balik-trabahong ligtas and the rollout of income and employment guarantees to address unemployment problems and enhance the capacity of the state on health and climate response.
16 March 2021