HOMENET PHIL PROPOSES POLICIES TO ADDRESS IMMEDIATE NEEDSOF INFORMAL WORKERS AFFECTED BY COVID-19
Homenet Philippines joined Social Watch, Coalition of Services for the Elderly (COSE) , other civil society organizations (CSOs), and academics from the University of the Philippines focusing on social protection to propose social policies to address the immediate needs of the most vulnerable sectors affected by the Covic-19 pandemic.
The general recommendations of the advocacy group are the following:
- Adopt more universal approaches to complement the targeted (means tested) approach to identifying social assistance programs’ beneficiaries. (Social Watch, 2020)
- Distribute government assistance for the 18 million families targeted by the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) effectively and efficiently utilizing a combination of the geographic, sectoral, and self-targeting approach. (Social Watch, 2020)
- Address the vital needs of the basic sectors, taking into consideration distinct and particular vulnerabilities
All basic sectors must be provided social protection, including income and food security; quality health care; constant water supply and sanitation services; regular, accurate, and accessible public health messages on Covid-19 in understandable formats; and venues to participate in decision-making.
To this third recommendation, Homenet Philippines added the following particular provisions: Thereshould be free and accessible Covid-19 testing and treatment for all who are in need of these; decent and safeisolation areas with food and medical care for persons with mild symptoms, or those under investigation or monitoring due to exposure; and burial assistance (e.g., free crematorium services as seen in Quezon City) for Covid-19 fatalities. Hygiene kits should be distributed along with food packs. Access to disinfectants, wash stations and personal and protective equipment should be ensured for all frontliners not only in the health care sector but also among others rendering essential services outside their homes.
For the sectoral proposals, Homenet Philippines made the following recommendations for workers in the informal economy:
- Ensure inclusion in the Social Amelioration Program of the working poorin the informaleconomy
- Immediately expand and facilitate access tp the currently very limited TulongPanghanapbuhaysaAting Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) and other cash for work programs to cover workers in the informal economy who are unable to workfor the duration of theEnhanced Community Quarantine.
- Engage displaced vendors and other workers in the informal economy to provide mobile marketsand kitchens to reach out to communities while observing physical distancing.
- Prioritize products of homebased workers, small farmers and fisherfolk in mobile markets andkitchens.
- Provide mobile boticas or small drugstores where affordable medicines can be accessed easily.
- Continue provision and extension of food and cash transfers to indigent households, includingthose of the working poor as well as the near from the pandemic poor or new poor resulting
- Support homebased workers and others in the informal economy who are producing masks,gowns, other Personal Protective Equipment, meals as well as transport, delivery, packing,sorting and other services to frontliners like health workers, traffic and law enforcers, etc.
- Support urban and peri-urban organicagriculture in addition to rural-based food productionefforts based on solidarity to ensure safe, healthy and balanced meals for all (to supplement/replace canned goods and instant noodles which are customarily distributed in food packs) . Free distribution of seedlings and setting up of community gardens and communal farms while observing physical distancing should be done at local level. (Contribution from PKKK, which is in the Homenet network)
- Suspend payments for taxes, rentals, public utilities such as water and electricity, health insurance and socialsecurity, loans from government sources
- Facilitate loan restructuring for homebased and other informal workers who have availed of micro-credit /loans from MFIs and other lending institutions (whether formal or informal)
- Provide short-term low-interest loans to augment income and restart micro-enterprises
- Engage organized groups of workers in the informal economy to facilitate identification,listing, prioritization, and mobilization of the most vulnerable in the provision of social assistance, essential services, and income augmentation