Department of Labor and Employment
April 25, 2020
FAO cites TUPAD as cushion to pandemic
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has cited the labor department’s social protection program for informal sector workers in addressing the global COVID-19 pandemic.
FAO said the Philippines is among only 11 countries that adopted such programs that specifically targeted the most vulnerable informal sector workers of the economy.
In a recent report, FAO said that while 84 countries introduced social protection measures to address the impact of COVID-19, only 11 adopted schemes meant specifically for workers in the informal sector.
Aside from the Philippines, the other countries cited for such programs are Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, Egypt, Australia, Thailand, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia.
“The most common measures taken so far include the introduction of cash grants and food distribution for vulnerable groups, and temporary employment schemes for informal workers,” FAO said, noting that “The COVID-19 pandemic is a major economic and labor market shock presenting significant impact in terms of unemployment and underemployment for informal workers.”
In its report, the FAO stated that the pandemic will surely experience further exacerbation of the vulnerability of those in the informal sector. Thus, response measures should foster the expansion of social protection coverage to informal workers like cash transfers, food or in-kind distribution.
“In the Philippines, informal workers who have temporarily lost their livelihood can apply for a temporary employment programme, limited to 10 days of work involving disinfection/sanitation of their houses and immediate vicinities. Beneficiaries will have orientation on safety and health, payment of 100 percent of the highest prevailing minimum wage, and will be enrolled into group micro-insurance,” the report said.
FAO referred to the DOLE’s modified Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/ Displaced Workers (TUPAD), an employment creation program that provides emergency employment for displaced, underemployed and seasonal workers in the informal economy. Dubbed as TUPAD Barangay Ko, Bahay Ko Disinfection/Sanitation Project or TUPAD #BKBK, the qualified workers were paid the prevailing minimum wage set in their respective regions equivalent to 10 days.
As of April 24, a total of 259,449 workers have availed the TUPAD #BKBK across all regions which exceed the initial target of 235,949 beneficiaries. Of this, 65% have completed their work and were paid a total of P723M in wages. More than 500,000 individuals have pending requests to be covered under the project. However, these pending requests will not all be covered due to dwindling funds.
Secretary Silvestre Bello III said, “DOLE quickly responded and taken measures in response to COVID-19 pandemic affecting the formal sector, workers in the informal economy and the overseas Filipino workers. We hope that the TUPAD #BKBK can help alleviate the thousands of informal sector workers displaced by this crisis.”
The Bicol Region has served the highest number of workers under the TUPAD #BKBK with a total of 53,169 workers amounting to P68.8 million in wages paid. This was followed by CALABARZON with a total of 23,808 affected informal workers at P60.4 million disbursement.
In Davao, TUPAD #BKBK workers have expressed how the project had provided a sense of security to be able to spend their wages on family necessities while in quarantine. ###