Global and Local: ACTION AND IDEAS ON THE PANDEMIC
In Pilipino language, MARINO Partylist in the Lower House of the bicameral Phil Congress claims on-going liaison with government agencies, particularly with Labor and Employment (DOLE) already with funds for those affected by the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).
The DOLE program is TUPAD-BKBK, Tulong Pangkabuhayan sa Displaced/Underprivileged Workers to start March 20. Instead of community service (atag in the Tagalog region), beneficiaries will be asked to clean their own households for ten (10) days at 100% highest wage rate for the region.
DOLE also has a war chest of P1.3-billion for affected workers under the COVID-19 Adjustment Program Measure (CAMP), a one-time financial assistance of P5,000 upon presentation of the company payroll in the month before the flexible work schedule.
On top of TUPAD-BKBK and CAMP of DOLE, MARINO is seeking ways to explore benefits from the Dept. of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Heat on ECQ.
Rep. Carlo ‘Zandro’ Gonzalez, one of the two MARINO nominees, calls for “alternative employment programs for seafarers” amid the nationwide ECQ for six months.
“They need to work to feed their families,” Gonzalez stressed but reiterates MARINO shall undertake its legislative mandate. He lauded health workers for combatting the disease as he appeals to refrain from hoarding food and medical supplies.
Pres. Nelson Ramirez of the United Filipino Seafarers (UFS) has publicly expressed his alleged call to Administrator Hans Cacdac, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) for financial assistance to seafarers stranded in Manila and those who are out of cash already.
Ramirez claims Cacdac said government is closed, those opened are only in skeletal force. Also, the ECQ prohibits leaving homes; thus, Cacdac suggests they should “stay safe at home” but
promised he will look into the issue after the ECQ.
Capt. Edgardo Flores, GM-Eastern Mediterranean Manning Agency, recommends those whose deployments were postponed should be assisted by OWWA. Flores also thinks budgets for training and loans may be shifted to underwrite needs for this health emergency.
After all, OWWA funds are contributions of the seafarers, the captain underscored.
Joseph I. De Leon appeals members should be allowed emergency withdrawals from their contributions to the Associated Marine Officers and Seamen’s Union of the Phils (AMOSUP). Hopefully, this is facilitated with the least of requirements because seafarers are in distress.
On 24 March 2020, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11469, also known as the “Bayanihan to Heal As One Act,” to address the national emergency brought about by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
It directed all of government, GOCCs, GFIs to submit recommendations within their mandates that may enable the President to more efficiently exercise the temporary authority granted to by the Act.
The Government partners with Red Cross (PRC) as the primary humanitarian agency in giving aid to the people, subject to reimbursement, possibly eyeing PRC’s M/V Amazing Grace, a large catamaran outfitted also with hospital facilities.
Albay Rep. Joey Salceda proposes a PhP12.61-billion as Heroes Compensation Fund to cover:
1. Hazard pay, overtime pay, and night shift differential
2. Family compensation fund (similar to the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund in the US following September 11 attacks) in case a health care worker or frontliner (including security forces) dies or is permanently disabled as a consequence of performing duties
3. Create a captive insurance company to cover the risks assumed by the Government and its employees and contractors working without private insurance coverage, in claims resulting from work done subsequent to the Covid-19 response efforts.
As key personnel.
IMO Sec-Gen Kitack Lim has asked United Nations agencies to support IMO in its request to governments to declare seafarers, port personnel and other crucial maritime workers as key personnel. Mr. Lim made the plea during a virtual meeting (1 April) with other UN chiefs and the UN Secretary-General, to address disruption and restrictions to travel, trade flows, global logistics, supply of food, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.
Lim also participated in the meeting of the expanded UN Senior Management Group (SMG) chaired by the UN Sec-Gen António Guterres, attended by members of the SMG with heads of UN specialized agencies like FAO, IFAD, ICAO, IMO, ILO, ITU, WHO and WMO.
Guterres stressed the importance of coordinated global, but also regional and local approach to address this unprecedented crisis; appealed to all UN-system agencies to work together.
The Intl Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and the Intl Chamber of Shipping (ICS) appealed to four United Nations agencies “to allow commercial ships access to ports worldwide and facilitate rapid change over of ships’ crew.”
ITF Sec-Gen Stephen Cotton and ICS Sec-Gen Guy Platten wrote jointly to the Director Generals of the Intl Labour Organization (ILO) and World Health Organization, to the Secretary Generals of the Intl Maritime Organization (IMO) and the Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
ICS represents the world’s national shipowners’ associations and over 80% of the world’s merchant shipping tonnage; ITF speaks on behalf of about two million seafarers who operate the world’s commercial ships.
ICS and ITF believes it important for the world’s governments to fully understand that around 90% of global trade is transported by commercial shipping. Every month, around 100,000 seafarers need to be changed over so that they can continue to transport global trade safely.
Seafarers should be treated as any other international ‘key workers’, such as airline crew and medical personnel, should be afforded special consideration.
Repatriated Filipino seafarers remain homeless in Metro Manila after being sent back to the Philippines without any quarantine area or temporary shelter to go to until ECQ is lifted. They are unable to return to their homes in provinces/cities as public transportation is paralyzed.
One incident involved six repatriated cadets who walked from OWWA office, luggage in tow, searching for accommodation. Learning they are OFWs who just arrived, motel representatives refused them in fears they are carrying the Corona virus.
The same refusal greeted the seafarers of Phil Transmarine Carriers-RCCL attempting to bring them in their training site in Maragondon, Cavite for quarantine prior to sending them home to their families. The local government of Maragondon refused entry asserting it was not coordinated with them.
The Association of Maritime Training Centers (PAMTCI) offered its facilities but hit a snag due to numerous permits and tedious process to secure from the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), departments of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Health (DOH), OWWA, and the local government units. Transportation should also be coordinated with the National Police-Special Weapons Tactics (PNP-SWAT).
Administrator Hans Cacdac, often bashed for inaction, finally issued “I am always a Facebook or text message away” and that:
1) We have been in contact with manning agencies of returning seafarers. We help them get billeted in hotels all over Metro Manila.
2) We have teamed up with MARINA and ISWAN to track the returned seafarers. We have an on-going effort for seafarers who have completed the 14-day quarantine to return to their home provinces.
3) We have been providing food packs for seafarers in boarding houses and accommodation facilities. We have been in touch with Manila City Hall in case they are discriminated upon or threatened with eviction.