The Nagkaisa labor coalition on Saturday said the government, as well as the political wannabes for the 2022 elections, must now consider instituting a universal and regular form of assistance for every Filipino household amid the persisting pandemic condition and economic recession.
The call was made on the day the quarantine status of the National Capital Region (NCR) and several other areas were lowered down to MECQ despite the highest infection rate recorded a day earlier at 17,231.
“Kahit ang mga eksperto at LGUs ay ipinaubaya na lahat sa Palasyo at IATF desisyon kaya’t hirap at parusa lamang ang babalikan ng ating mga manggagawa. At dahil ang lockdown at ayuda ay magkakambal na usapin, mas makabubuti na magkaroon na ng regular na sistema ng ayuda para sa lahat sa halip na paulit-ulit lamang binabago ang kategorya ng kwarantin. Dahil kung ang pandemya ay pangmatagalan na, ganoon din dapat ang ayuda o sa mas lagpas pang pangangailangan,” said Nagkaisa Chairperson Sonny Matula.
Nagkaisa had been pushing for P10,000 income guarantees for displaced workers and 100-day employment guarantees for the unemployed since the onset of the pandemic, but the government is only able to provide P1,000 subsidy for qualified beneficiaries. The group is now building the widest consensus and solid arguments behind this call for basic income, a measure that it said, “would address many issues such as aggregate demand, employment, chronic poverty, and hunger.”
Basic income, Matula said will also form part of workers electoral agenda.
“Hindi pwedeng paikot-ikot na lamang tayo sa problemang ito. Hindi rin pwedeng gawing permanenteng dahilan ang kakapusan ng pondo dahil may paraan din para dito,” said Matula, adding that universal social protection programs like what is being proposed can be funded through a wealth tax or from what others described as ‘solidarity tax’.
Matula said workers, “for lack of better choice, have braved the risks of infection and even deaths, travel hazards, lost income, unemployment, and worsening working conditions one year and a half under the pandemic. But living with the same menu under the same regime for the next six years is untenable.”