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Labor, bizmen urge DOLE to allocate more CAMP funds

By: Rosalie O. Abatayo - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | May 14,2020 - 10:48 AM

Roads in Dumaguete City near empty with the closure of several business establishments due to the COVID-19 crisis in this file photo. 

CEBU CITY, Philippines — The labor and business sectors groups have called on the national government to allocate more funds for the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) financial assistance to cover all displaced workers.

At least five business groups in Cebu, in a joint statement, said the cutting off of the application for the financial assistance to their displaced workers, depriving a larger part of the affected employees, has upset their community “who have patiently waited to receive the government’s financial assistance for employees affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.”

Last April 16, 2020, the Department of Labor and Employment in Central Visayas (DOLE-7) announced that they have already stopped accepting application for CAMP effective April 15 as the budget for the program has already maxed out.

READ: DOLE suspends acceptance of CAMP application, funds almost depleted

DOLE-7, on May 8, said the region’s P158.09 million allocation under CAMP has been exhausted, having disbursed the P5,000 cash aid to 31,618 workers from 1,403 companies in the region.

“In this most trying of times to all members of society, it becomes almost cruel and insensitive to be given hope of alleviation, only soon after to be deprived of such hope,” the business groups said.

The joint official statement of the business groups was signed by Felix Taguiam, president of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Steven Alain Yu, president of the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Ambassador Francisco Benedicto, president of the Cebu Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce; Santhana Krishnan Vaidiswaran, president of the Mactan Export Processing Zone Chamber of Exporters and Manufacturers; and Chester Lim, president of the Philippine Retailers Association-Cebu Chapter.

Emotional stress on workers

The business group said the labor department should have based their allocation for the financial assistance from their data on the displaced workers in the region to ensure that everyone will have a fair share.

The business sector said the covered workers by the disbursed CAMP only constitutes 17 percent of the displaced employees, leaving a balance of about 83 percent.

“Discontinuing the program due to lack of funds would create confusion and emotional stress from affected workers especially during this pandemic where they have no source of income due to temporary closure or shutdown,” the chambers said.

“Workers are banking on the committed subsidy as it is of big help to them in alleviating their current plight. Our productive sector deserves better treatment from the very government to whom they have religiously remitted their taxes,” they added.

The group added that closing the program arbitrarily will be perceived as selective and run against CAMP’s supposed aim of helping the marginalized workers in the time of the COVID-19 crisis and the crippling of the economy that the health crisis brought.

The position of the business groups was supported by progressive labor group Alyansa sa mga Mamumuo sa Sugbo-Kilusang Mayo Uno (AMA Sugbo-KMU)

AMA Sugbo-KMU Chairperson Jaime Paglinawan said they welcome the business groups’ call as several affected workers have not received the assistance from CAMP.

Sans an additional allocation for CAMP to cover more displaced workers, AMA Sugbo-KMU urged employers to provide financial assistance for their workers.

“We ask employers to consider the state of their workers at this time. Because cash assistance from DOLE is unavailable and companies are still not in full operation, it is then the employers’ obligation to provide financial assistance for their workers,” Paglinawan said.

Last April 30, DOLE said those who could not be accommodated by the agency’s CAMP may resort to other subsidy programs of the government such as the Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS) Program of the Department of Finance (DOF).

Under the SBWS, a wage subsidy ranging from P6,000, based on the Central Visayas minimum wage, may be extended by the government to each eligible employee in the region per month. /bmjo

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