Nationwide round-up

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OFWs affected by Kuwait, Qatar flight ban to get assistance

OVERSEAS FILIPINO workers (OFWs) in Kuwait and Qatar affected by the temporary flight ban imposed by these two countries will be given assistance by the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE). In a statement on Sunday, DoLE said around 743 OFWs in Kuwait were affected when the country imposed a temporary ban on flights to and from the Philippines last March 7. “Filipinos who are now in Kuwait can stay, but those who were en route after the announcement of the ban were barred entry. We are now considering either flying them back immediately or just wait for the seven-day period, as the Kuwait government said that the ban is only good for seven days,” said Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III. In Qatar, 300 OFWs were also affected when the country issued a similar flight ban on March 9. Mr. Bello is currently requesting P1.5 billion from President Rodrigo R. Duterte to assist all OFWs whose employment were affected due to the virus concerns and cases. — Gillian M. Cortez

Lawmakers propose measures to cushion COVID-19 impact

SEVERAL LAWMAKERS have proposed various measures to help cushion the impact of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19), particularly on the general public. ACT-CIS Partylist Rep. Rowena Niña O. Taduran called on the government to impose a moratorium on the repayment of debts, taxes, fees and utility bills which are due within the one month community quarantine period in Metro Manila from March 15 to April 14. “We must consider that even though people may have money, they might be apprehensive about going out to take care of these payments. Also, they might need their money for more essential items at this time,” Ms. Taduran said in a statement on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Bagong Henerasyon Partylist Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy asked mall owners and landlords to give “compassionate discount” to their tenants, especially small retailers. “Talagang nalulugi po ngayon ang ating mga (Lossses are really being incurred by) MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises),” she said in a statement. Ms. Herrera-Dy added that giving temporary relief to small businesses is a “wise move” instead of letting them close shop. “We also call on the Department of Trade and Industry to facilitate this financial relief for our small businesses, and to do this as soon as possible,” she said Sunday. For his part, Albay Rep. Edcel C. Lagman urged the government to extend economic packages and assistance to affected workers and MSMEs. “To offset wage losses and other related adverse consequences of COVID-19, the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Social Security System (SSS) should extend interest-free three-month emergency salary loans to affected workers, who have been temporarily laid off or placed on staggered work schedule, with repayment to be amortized for ten (10) months starting three months from receipt of the loan proceeds,” he said in a statement on Saturday. He also called on the government to use its Contingent Fund, Calamity Fund and Quick-Response Fund (QRF) to provide hazard pay to frontline workers.

Meanwhile, San Jose Del Monte City Rep. Florida P. Robes urged government to temporarily house Metro Manila workers living outside the capital in hotels, motels, inns, and other similar lodgings during the community quarantine period. She said allowing workers living outside the National Capital Region to go in and out of Metro Manila “defeats the purpose of the community quarantine since they may spread the virus in their respective communities.” — Genshen L. Espedido