Tuesday, March 31, 2020

NAGKAISA! Condemns Violence, Abuse, Discrimination Against Health Workers

The NAGKAISA! Labor Coalition condemns the violence, abuse and discrimination against our fellow workers, in particular the health workers in this fight against the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID 19).

NAGKAISA!, the biggest labor alliance in the country, holds that discrimination, abuse or violence against workers who have risked their lives to save others is not only lamentable but highly deplorable or condemnable to the highest degree.

Among the recent reported acts of violence, abuse, and discrimination of Health Workers were, among others:

1. A male nurse in a privately owned hospital based in Cebu City was reportedly splashed with chlorine by two men on board a motorcycle while he walking along Tres De Abril Street in Cebu City on Friday evening, March 27, 2020(CDN 3/29/20)

2. A utility staff member of St. Louis Hospital in Tacurong, Sultan Kudarat, was harassed and splashed with bleach solution. (DOH, ABS-CBN 11:11pm 3/29/20)

3. Hospital security guards and nurses in Bataan were evicted from their rented houses because their owners feared that they would be infected by these health workers. (DZMM 7am news, 3/29/20).

4. A Nurse of a private hospital was splattered by bleach all over his face while he was on his way to report for duty in Tacurong , SK (MB 3/29/20).

5. Physicians, nurses, medical technologists and other health workers have been expelled from their dormitories or were even being looked upon with disdain like they were carriers of the coronavirus themselves in Baguio City (MB 3/25/20).

6. Several homeowners, belonging to a subdivision in Bogo City, were planning to draft a petition that would seek to bar hospital workers from entering their properties. (CDN 3/29/20).

7. Health workers were also refused service in eateries, denied rides in public transport and asked to leave their apartments. (PDI 3/31/20).

NAGKAISA is one with the Department of Health (DOH) and other women and men of goodwill in condemning these cases of discrimination, abuse ot harassment of health care workers. Once more, these acts of abuse and harassments are unacceptable!

NAGKAISA! strongly protests and demands that the situation be corrected as soon as possible by the authorities to investigate these incidences and penalize the culprits or responsible persons who committed these deplorable acts as these are not ordinary breach of law but violations of human rights.

NAGKAISA! recognizes that health workers have the right to live in freedom and safety and the right to live life without discrimination while performing their jobs. These are among the rights recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Violence, abuse or discrimination towards health workers or persons who may have come in contact with, as well as health practitioners helping patient is a breach of human rights.

NAGKAISA! views these incidents as unfair and unfortunate and one way to avoid these being repeated is for LGUs to secure their safety. Alternatively, health workers must be provided temporary living quarters at their place of work or nearby.

As of monday the Philippines has a total of 1546 COVID-19 cases, with 78 fatalities and 42 recoveries.

Twelve Filipino doctors have sacrificed their lives against this COVID-19 pandemic.

NAGKAISA! supports our physicians, nurses, medical technologists, security guards, utility personnel and other health workers in the frontline. They need society's protection when they are at home, in transit to and from hospital, or wherever they are now!

Though our workers have the right to refuse to work in dangerous and hazardous situation, NAGKAISA! is deeply grateful for the volunteerism of the health workers who risk their lives and limbs in the frontlines.

NAGKAISA! salutes our health workers for their bravery and volunteerism in the frontlines. They are fighting to mitigate and prevent the spread of coronavirus 2019.

They are fighting for you and me.


Thursday, March 26, 2020

Gamutin pero panagutin si Sen. Koko Pimentel

As PUI, cov-positive, man of law and a person of authority but who violated many protocols, Sen. Koko Pimentel's irresponsible act must be condemned and he be held accountable. His irresponsible action, which is deplored by the MMC itself, has forced the hospital to quarantine its workforce thereby adding more burden to the health system that’s now being overwhelmed by the pandemic.

But, as a patient himself, Sen. Pimentel must be treated immediately and with utmost care, in the same way ordinary people must get the same quality of treatment which they find today as a privilege available only to VIPs.

No amount of justification can placate the people who were placed under strict quarantine discipline while seeing politicians wave their VIP cards in getting the express lane for testing and having the best caregiver in Secretary Duque.

Government officials should remember this very simple thing: People will never enjoy watching more DESPICABLE YOU while in home quarantine.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Allocation of funds is the solution, not delegation of extra powers to the President

Workers who were forced into home quarantine without subsidies, in collective agony, already have a full view and had a taste of how disruptive and repressive Presidential power works during emergencies. The people never asked for it in the first place, nor will locked-down communities today demand for a more extensive quarantine measure from the President.

Quarantine subsidy, free mass testing and treatment as well as adequate support to our front-liners are clearly what the working people need today. Sadly, however, as we obey social distancing policies at home, what we find sorely lacking from the President's declaration of public health emergency and the implementation of lockdown policy is FUNDING, which under the Constitution, is the primary duty of Congress and not of the President.

Now is the time, therefore, for Congress to do its part in the COVID-19 battle. It should, as a matter of obligation, allocate more funds for the frontline workers, their safety and their supplies, and subsidies for the millions in forced home quarantine. In particular, Nagkaisa is urging the leadership of both houses of Congress to allocate funds for:

1. 10,000-peso Quarantine Subsidy to each worker in the formal and informal sector for their food and essential needs. We estimate that 225 billion pesos would be needed to provide this level of subsidy.
2. 10 billion pesos for mass testing, treatment, and adequate support to our front-liners, including their PPEs, transport needs, quarantine and proper accommodation.
3. Prepare the 2021 budget prioritizing measures versus pandemics and establishing the Center for Disease Control and Protection in the long term.

We further believe that addressing this policy gap in the fight against COVID-19 does not require the granting of emergency powers to the President as realignments and new fund allocation properly belongs to Congress. You might as well consider doing sessions in quarantine in Batasan rather than staying at home without pay like ordinary workers.

We also urge Congress not to allow any attempt to clip the powers of the LGU’s just to ensure national compliance to standards which in principle must also consider local application based on local conditions. We would rather prefer local innovations than presidential sanctions. As a matter of fact, most LGUs, especially those outside NCR, also need to augment their resources for general welfare to promote health and safety under section 16 of the Local Government Code.

As to the taking over of public utilities, the Constitution already allows the President to take such extreme measure when public interest so requires.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

NAGKAISA and KMU Joint Statement on the Government’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

We are dismayed with the government’s ill-conceived lockdown that caused more problems and may have spread the virus wider, as the government failed to give assurance to the public, caused panic, implemented the lockdown without the necessary medical response and possibly compromising the safety and health of workers.

We are not opposed to community quarantine as it is clearly unsafe and hazardous for workers to expose themselves to the virus going to work. This might save them from COVID-19, but without providing the appropriate social protection, workers and their families would die from hunger.

Thus we are demanding a 10,000-peso Quarantine Subsidy. While we welcome the 5,000-peso financial assistance announced by DOLE as a good start, we find it insufficient. We also welcome all Congressional initiatives to provide subsidies to workers and to other vulnerable citizens.

Workers estimate that 225 billion pesos would be needed to provide the subsidy. An amount that will be surely circulate back into the local economy and keep the economy afloat.

Our frontliners of doctors, nurses and all other health workers should be fully supported by providing them with personal protective equipment, accessible transportation (including select PUVs), hot meals, express lanes at checkpoints, hazard pay, even proper sleeping quarters near hospitals.

Workers can actually invoke the right to refuse work that is dangerous as in the case of the COVID-19 national calamity, under RA 11058 or the new Occupational Safety and Health Law. But instead of doing so, workers in industries allowed to operate such as banks, food, export-oriented enterprises, BPOs and those part of skeletal workforces have chosen to cooperate as an expression of our commitment to the nation. These workers deserve the support health workers should get. But the situation and the Virus itself, seem to have gotten out of control. Thus, we need to send them home soon.

No health worker should die saving lives. No worker at all should die saving the economy.

While the government could have prepared better, it should now exert more effort and mobilize resources to the right channels. It should focus on medical efforts such as the fast procurement and production of COVID-19 test kits that will be used for mass testing, making testing facilities accessible to those in need, and the mobility and protection of our health workers. Some 10 billion will be needed for this. We demand a special session of Congress to approve the release of the amount needed for the Quarantine Subsidy, the mass testing, heath-centered response and other social protection measures. Congress, in their next regular session in May, should prepare the 2021 budget prioritizing measures versus pandemics and establishing the Center for Disease Control and Protection in the long term.

As the national government hardly supports LGUs, the latter should be given the discretion to mobilize select PUVs (ex. Tricycles, jeepneys, UVs) that is much needed; it is a concrete way to support our frontliners and workers.

The Labor Department should also extend support to Filipino workers overseas, especially in COVID-19 hard hit countries. We hope to get assurance that the proper medical care is also being extended to them by the host government with assistance from the Philippine government. For returning OFWs, their health condition should be continuously monitored and given free quarantine services if needed.

The COVID-19 pandemic should be a wake-up call for the government to invest heavily on our health system, particularly in government hospitals and for employing more medical practitioners and health workers who could render public service. We have long called for an increase in budget for the health sector, as well as other social services for the general public, as opposed to privatizing hospitals and public utilities.