DOLE’S Closure of Assistance Program, Unjust, Irresponsible and Pointless

April 17, 2020

On April 15, 2020, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) announced that its COVID-19 Adjustment Measure Program (CAMP) is now closed for new applications. OIC Assistant Secretary Dominique Tutay said that this is to give way to the transition to the wage subsidy for small business program of the Department of Finance. 

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights is strongly dismayed with this announcement. Since the lockdown was implemented, lots of families suffered from hunger as the promised assistance in the form of relief goods and cash aid comes slow or does not come at all. Displaced workers have been relying on DOLE’s P5,000 assistance for their families’ sustenance for the duration of the quarantine but have encountered numerous problems such as their employer’s non-compliance with the requirements, refusal of the company to apply, DOLE’s hotline that is not working, DOLE’s rejection of the company’s application and the slow and long process of the application with many workers not receiving anything even after a month of its implementation. 

“This government is adding more harm than good to the workers and the poor, with their inconsistent and overly bureaucratic processes of giving the urgently needed aid. Why is the CAMP application being closed down when many workers are still in dire need of support? Why is the responsibility being transferred to the DOF who knows nothing about the workers’ situation? Instead of simply giving the promised assistance, this government is wasting precious time on its bureaucratic measures than providing urgently needed aid.” said Daisy Arago, CTUHR Executive Director.

The Labor Department estimates that around 1.6 million workers are affected by the lockdown due to COVID-19. It also reported that the CAMP has provided Php1.2 billion aid to 236,412 workers and is in the process of distributing aid to 85,563 more workers in the coming days. “We cannot fathom how they can afford to stop the assistance program when it has given aid to barely 15% of their conservative estimation. Providing assistance to displaced workers is under the mandate of DOLE. Transferring it to another department is simply unjust, irresponsible and pointless. Give the Php51 billion wage subsidy to DOLE and expedite the process of distributing the aid,” Arago added.

 DOLE’s Estimate Number of Affected Workers in the Formal Sector 
Metro Manila246,810
Central Luzon179,875
Davao Region90,414
Cagayan Region75,819
Central Visayas51,150
Cordillera Region46,614
Northern Mindanao46,351
Central Visayas51,150
Bicol Region41,322
Western Visayas36,526
Eastern Visayas24,940
Zamboanga Peninsula24,664
Ilocos Region17,378
TOTAL 1,101,429

Arago also noted that the data of the Labor Department is conservative. According to think-tank Ibon Foundation, the number of workers who may be affected by the Enhanced Community Quarantine, both from the formal and informal sector is at 11 million. This is based on the 2018 labor survey force.   

CAMP is one of the promised financial assistance programs of the Duterte Administration amid this  COVID-19 pandemic through DOLE. Without economic activity, it is difficult for the workers to fend for their families needs. Thus, the P5,000 assistance from DOLE, insufficient as it may be, is a big help to meet the basic necessities of their families.

CTUHR also noted its continuous appeal to big companies to pay their workers despite work stoppage because of the enhanced community quarantine.###