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To private sector: Provide food to disadvantaged communities during Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine

Now that the country is in the midst of a deadly public health crisis, it is a shared responsibility of both public and private sectors to ensure the survival of disadvantaged communities, including daily wage earners.


PASAY CITY, Philippines – An ambulant vendor takes a ride late at night, 21 June 2019 file. Senator Win Gatchalian said this is the best opportunity to relive the spirit of “bayanihan (concerted effort)” among government agencies, private agencies and communities with existing partnerships in distributing aid more efficiently during the “enhanced community quarantine” in Luzon. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

This is Senator Win Gatchalian’s clarion call to the private sector following the declaration of an “enhanced community quarantine” in Luzon over the coronavirus pandemic, which threatens the survival of daily wage earners and members of the poor and disadvantaged communities.

The directives from the Palace calls for strict quarantine in all households, cessation of work, and regulation of food provision and essential health services.

One concern that Gatchalian raised is the adequacy of food supply. While all local government units are expected to supply food to daily wage earners in their respective localities for the next 30 days, Gatchalian said that government resources will not be enough to feed these workers in the long term, especially in the case of a prolonged enhanced community quarantine. According to Gatchalian, this is where the private sector should step in, especially large companies, to complement efforts and resources by the government to ensure these workers’ survival.

“Ano ba ang mas gusto natin, tulungang mabigyan ng pagkain ang mga tao ngayon at iba pa nilang pangangailangan o mas madaming pasyente ang gagamutin natin in the next 6 months”, asked Gatchalian.

According to Gatchalian, existing partnerships between private firms and government agencies should be leveraged in achieving this goal such as the companies’ programs on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Since these programs are already established, Gatchalian said that they provide readily available channels, including community partnerships, which will allow more efficient distribution of aid.

“This is the best opportunity to relive the spirit of bayanihan. I urge the private sector, especially those large companies, to help provide food and other necessities to our fellow Filipinos”, Gatchalian added.

The lawmaker called on private firms to uphold workers’ welfare by implementing more humanitarian policies. Aside from the implementation of policies like remote work scheme, Gatchalian also called for the suspension of the no-work, no-pay policy to help keep daily wage earners afloat while they are unable to render service.

For those who are in the informal economy, Gatchalian eyes the provision of unemployment financial assistance. According to Gatchalian, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) should identify potential beneficiaries of this financial assistance scheme.

To date, COVID-19 has already infected 142 and killed 12 in the Philippines. Globally, data from the World Health Organization shows that the number of confirmed cases has exceeded the 150,000 mark.