The Leaders Forum, a social dialogue mechanism consisting of leaders of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP), Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), and the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (PHILEXPORT) representing management, and the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), Federation of Free Workers (FFW), and Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO), representing labor, jointly urge the National Government, through the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), to address the gap and issues on the implementation of the COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP).
As we enter the fourth week of Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon and in other areas of the country, a significant number of workers and their families, especially the poor and the near-poor, including those earning a little more than the minimum wage, and their families are increasingly under threat of hunger.
The coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) has forced many enterprises to downsize their operations, or to temporarily close shop, leading to loss of jobs and displacement of workers. This has created significant loss of income for workers who are now in survival mode. Thus, the Leaders Forum calls for coverage of all workers in the formal economy, including those who have an employer-employee relationship, especially those on “no work, no pay” arrangement, affected by the ECQ regardless of employment size of establishment being prioritized.
As a quick response, the Department of Labor and Employment has put in place COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) to provide temporary relief to workers. However, its enforcement has been encountering policy and program gaps in terms of the following:
Notification: rank and file workers’ only form of communication is through text messaging. Many do not have access to internet and thus, cannot use e-mails. Mobile messaging and calls will require additional costs for them.
Benefits: no public transportation is available; offices are closed; not all workers have ATMs or bank accounts
Requirements: e.g., payroll and pay slips, are confidential and are in offices which are closed
To ensure that the assistance reach the workers in a timely manner to enable them to weather the economic contraction resulting from the ECQ, the Leaders Forum recommends the following:
• DOLE to notify employees and/or employer through e-mail and/or text message on the status of a company’s application under the CAMP (strictly within three days after submission of requirements, as prescribed in DOLE D.O. 209 s. 2020), stating the expected date/s of release of the benefits to the employees.
• Government accounting and auditing rules may have to be relaxed and should take a backseat to address the paramount survival needs of our workers.
• DOLE to release a report on the budget allocated for CAMP per region, with daily updates including amount disbursed, number of workers covered, and number of CAMP applications as against approvals and disapprovals.
• State the reasons for disapproval of CAMP applications.
For simplification of process and ease in application:
A. That only one document among the following be submitted in lieu of the two documents required under DOLE D.O. 209:
I. Establishment form
II. Pay slip
IV. SSS Alpha list
V. HR-certified list of employees
VI. Certified payroll
B. That DOLE allow workers to submit requirements directly using an online portal, especially created for CAMP applications. Applications may be verified through the applicants’ SSS and/or company IDs or certificate of employment (template should be provided by DOLE in the online portal).
C. That DOLE fast track the procedures by allowing both national and regional DOLE offices to process applications.
D. That distribution of benefits be done through any of the following, whichever is most convenient and expedient for the worker to receive the financial assistance:
I. Through banks directly to the savings / payroll accounts of the workers
II. By the employer through checks payable to the individual employees, uncrossed and encashable. The employers will take full responsibility and accountability for actual releases to their employees
III. Through money-remittance services (e.g. Pera Padala, Palawan Express, Western Union, etc.)
IV. Mobile wallets (e.g. Smart money, G-cash, etc.)
Now that the ECQ has been extended until April 30, we urge the government to seriously consider:
Increasing allocation to CAMP, as this is clearly insufficient to meet the needs of a formal sector worker, and
Ensuring income subsidy, through CAMP, on a monthly basis for the duration of the ECQ. Any such income subsidy should be equivalent to the prevailing minimum wage.
The Leaders Forum urges quick and concrete action from the DOLE and commits to continue an open dialogue with the DOLE to ensure that government assistance to the workers are delivered in a timely and efficient manner. The Forum is dedicated to partner with government in providing sustainable solutions to the problems the country is currently facing and in preparing for rehabilitation and economic recovery.
ADOPTED this 8th day of April 2020 in the National Capital Region Philippines.