Press Release
June 2, 2020

Villanueva: Transport woes in Metro Manila affect workers the most

Workers stranded on roads in Metro Manila on Monday only bolstered the idea that the lifeblood of the economy got the short end of the stick once again, according to Senator Joel Villanueva.

"Our economy has been the prime consideration in the decision to relax our quarantine restriction, but sadly, it appears we forgot about the mobility of our workers in our desire to jumpstart the recovery," lamented Villanueva, chair of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resource Development. "For industries to restart successfully, it relies on the labor of the people to spark the economic recovery."

"Mass transportation plays a critical role in the successful restart of our economy. We hope our transport regulators are able to make adjustments in their plans in the coming days so that our workers won't have to worry how to get to work," added the lawmaker in the statement on Tuesday morning.

Transportation issues hounded the first day of the general community quarantine in Metro Manila as the government deployed trucks to ferry those stranded in major roads.

Villanueva reiterated the importance of mobility in the capital, saying that workers cannot afford to miss work or be late because they've already suffered to much in the past three months of the strict movement restrictions. The enhanced community quarantine shut down most industries and businesses and for workers, that meant "no work, no pay."

He also called for the government to increase its capacity on disease surveillance, which remains to be the only option to manage the spread of COVID-19 since a vaccine has yet to be successfully made. With more people out, and workers having to fill out contact tracing forms in the workplaces, the government should be able to handle this increase by expanding its capacity for contact tracing.

The lawmaker said he supported the funding of the Department of Labor and Employment's Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) which will be used to increase the capacity of the government's contact tracing program.

According to the 10th Bayanihan Report to Congress which Malacanang submitted on Monday, the government retained 134 individuals in its contact tracing program, deployed in 61 hospitals, and regional and city epidemiology surveillance units.

Villanueva likewise reminded the labor department to proactively monitor the compliance of companies with prevailing occupational safety and health standards, saying that workplaces must always ensure the welfare of workers.

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