Mon. Jul 26th, 2021

MANILA – The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases’ (IATF-EID) technical working group is set to discuss a government program that would address the needs of displaced workers due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak in the country.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the IATF-EID technical working group, chaired by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), is tasked to ensure the effective implementation of the social amelioration program.

Other members of the group are the Office of the President and the departments of budget, finance, and labor, Nograles said.

“A separate IATF technical working group is hereby directed to meet for the purpose of operationalizing the social amelioration program of government,” he said.

This came after President Rodrigo Duterte placed Luzon under “enhanced” community quarantine until April 12 to stop the further spread of Covid-19 in the country.

More than 5.3 million people in Luzon can only leave their homes to access basic necessities.

Most work is suspended, except in the case of individuals who are rendering health and essential services.

Emergency employment

Nograles said the IATF-EID has authorized the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to accredit a skeletal staff who would facilitate the conduct of the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) program.

The TUPAD program, a community-based package of assistance, provides emergency employment for displaced workers, underemployed, and unemployed poor for a maximum period of one month.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said his department could offer to formal and informal workers who have been displaced due to the Covid-19 threat jobs related to the disinfection of homes and other access roads.

“Ito ang trabaho na ibibigay namin sa informal workers (This is the job that we can offer to informal workers). We also offer the same program to formal workers and we pay them the same minimum wage,” Bello said.

Quick Response Fund

Duterte has placed the entire Philippines under a state of calamity for six months to allow the government to tap additional funds to contain the spread of Covid-19.

As of Tuesday, the Department of Health reported that the number of Covid-19 cases in the country has climbed to 187.

Nograles said all local government units (LGUs), as first responders, could now tap their respective Quick Response Funds following the declaration of the nationwide state of calamity.

He said local governments should attend to the needs of their constituents, especially those who belong to the marginalized sector.

“Yung pinaka-front line natin dito is ‘yung LGUs (LGUs are on the front line here),” Nograles said. “Kaya tayo nasa state of calamity, para maka-tap sila sa kanilang Quick Response Fund nila (We’re under a state of calamity so they could tap their Quick Response Fund).”

Duterte earlier directed village captains to distribute food to people who are living in their respective territories.

Nograles assured that the DSWD would help the LGUs in providing food assistance to their constituents during the month-long quarantine period across Luzon.

“Kung sino yung mga marginalized, yun ang uunahin nila. Tapos from there, i-augment na lang ‘yung efforts nila through the national government, primarily ang DSWD (They should prioritize the marginalized sector. From thereon, their efforts would be augmented through the national government, primarily the DSWD),” he said.

Emergency operations center

Nograles said the IATF-EID would also establish and operate an Emergency Operations Center at the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Operations Center in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

He added that the NDRRMC’s response clusters for Covid-19 at the national, regional, and local levels would be convened.

“All councils are directed to implement preventive, preparatory, responsive, and early recovery measures in anticipation of the worst-case scenario in so far as the Covid-19 health event is concerned,” Nograles said.

He said the NDRRMC’s rehabilitation and recovery cluster has also been directed to develop a resiliency and recovery plan.

Nograles likewise noted that there was a recommendation to expand the IATF-EID’s membership by including the Metro Manila Development Authority and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process as ex officio members.

“A recommendation to the Office of the President is hereby submitted for the purpose of including said agencies to the expanded membership of the IATF,” he said. (PNA)

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