Press Release
May 21, 2020

Contact tracers: Model vs COVID second wave, tsunami of joblessness

Hiring contact tracers "is a good way to stop the second wave of the pandemic from coming and to stem the tsunami of joblessness," Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said.

Recto said such a "cash-for-work" scheme should be the template in providing emergency employment to the millions of Filipinos rendered jobless by COVID-19.

"Instead of purely handouts, pay them to lend a helping hand in fighting the disease," Recto said.

The transition to the new normal, Recto said, would require workers who will retool and redesign the current infrastructure.

"If we have to boost food production, because countries that supply us rice are now into 'rice nationalism,' then implement a cash-for-work scheme in the repair of irrigation canals and in building facilities that will cut post-harvest facilities loses," Recto said.

"'Yung creating bike lanes pa lang will create thousands of jobs," he said.

Urban gardening can be inserted as a condition for cash transfer, Recto said. "Whether in pots or in small plots, pwedeng gawing dagdag na ayuda as incentive. Growing vegetables in a couple of pots meets a health-related conditionality."

He said there are many arrangements in which "sweat equity will be rewarded with subsidy."

He cited public construction, which is an outdoor activity and where social distancing can be observed, as a massive jobs generator.

"Building more health facilities will need manpower. Boosting internet capability of our schools and colleges will require jobs. If there's one good thing that COVID should leave behind, it should be a strengthened health system and schools retooled for online learning," Recto said.

Recto said government can attach a "jobs odometer" to cash aid given to individuals or assistance to distressed companies. "Yung job retention or payroll protection in exchange for a financial lifeline is one good example."

The government's economic team has proposed the hiring of as many as 136,000 individuals who will trace the people COVID carriers have come into contact with.

Citing the latest DOH report, Recto said there are only 38,315 engaged contact tracers out of the ideal 126,225, or a shortage of 95,427.

As of May 14, these contact tracers were able to reach and identify the 60,586 individuals that 11,618 confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients came into contact with.

"'Yung average na anim katao lang ang nakasalamuha ng bawat COVID patient ay medyo sa low side," Recto said.

The relaxation of quarantine in Luzon has led to the movement of people, which makes the ability to contact trace a must, Recto said.

Recto said President Duterte should "green light" the recruitment of contact tracers. "If 160 of your security personnel have tested positive for COVID-19, if it has penetrated your security ring, then it gives you a snapshot of the big picture.

News Latest News Feed