Modified ECQ only serves businesses, sacrifices workers — labor group

By January 14, 2021 No Comments

MANILA, Philippines – A modified enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) due to the COVID-19 pandemic as of now would only serve the interests of big businesses and not of workers, a labor group claimed on Wednesday.

According to the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to approve the easing of the lockdown measures in provinces and several places and the modification of the ECQ in Metro Manila, Laguna, and Cebu — without conducting mass testing and without beefing up the health sector’s capabilities — would place workers in danger.

“President Duterte has yielded to the lobby by capital and technocrats, who have been pushing for the resumption of business since late March. They do not intend to ‘flatten the curve’ of COVID-19 transmissions and mortality rates,” BMP President Luke Espiritu said in a statement.

“They are more concerned with the flattening of the GDP growth rate, which at the establishment-level is reflected by flat-lining profit margins,” he added.

What the government must do, BMP said, is conduct mass testing to identify where local transmissions of the coronavirus are taking place — especially since government has not even tested one percent of the population.

The labor group clarified though that they are not against the easing of quarantine regulations as it would mean workers can start again after being left without any income through the lockdown, which forced the suspension of jobs.

However, all efforts would be futile if workers get infected during the re-opening of work and establishment.

“Most workers may actually support the easing of the quarantine restrictions without regard to their own personal safety. We appeal to the toiling majority to exercise caution and to refrain from reckless abandon. Capital is again playing on the desperation of the propertyless masses,” Espiritu explained.

“With the easing of the restrictions without sufficient mass testing and adequate health and safety protocols, workers would be sacrificial lambs to the altars of profit. After all, they could easily be replaced by the unemployed millions – the reserve labor force,” he noted.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque previously admitted that the government missed out on its April 30 goal of having of 8,000 tests per day, although he assured that authorities are working to beef up the country’s testing capacities — even as mass testing calls started as early as the first weeks of the lockdown in March.

Department of Health data on May 10 showed that 173,352 individuals have been tested for possible coronavirus infection by various testing sites, with 15,002 initially testing positive.

Duterte on Tuesday approved the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) proposal to place NCR, Laguna, and Cebu City under the ECQ until May 31, while areas with moderate risk of local coronavirus transmission will be placed on a general community quarantine (GCQ).

BMP said that new infection waves in countries previously hailed for handling the pandemic well should serve as a guide for Philippine authorities.  Recently, South Korea was forced to shut down clubs and bars shortly after re-opening it again as local transmission appears imminent.

In the Philippines, health authorities warned that they have not yet controlled the coronavirus transmissions despite the easing of quarantine regulations and reminded people to still observe measures placed to avoid mass infections.

As of Monday, DOH has recorded 11,618 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 772 deaths and 2,251 recoveries.  Worldwide, over 4.264 million persons have been infected, 291,972 of whom have died while 1.493 million have recovered.

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TAGS: 2019 Novel Coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, BMP, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino, Cebu, COVID-19, ECQ, enhanced community quarantine, GCQ coronavirus strain, general community quarantine, Laguna, lockdown, Luke Espiritu, Metro Manila, nCoV update, Philippine news updates, President Rodrigo Duterte
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