Quarantine with no testing “useless, testing our patience”, says labor group

Mar. 22, 2020

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The government’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak, from community quarantine to its budget prioritizing less on test kits, has drawn response from the labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno.

The quarantine has affected over 10 million workers and daily wage earners, as they are forced to stay in their homes, as the country reels with the rise of Covid-19 cases and deaths and test kits still coming in.

KMU Chairperson Elmer Labog said the Department of Health needs to think of a better approach to help the poor.

“The DOH may have overdone social distancing. They distanced too far from the people and from the truth. How can they not see the need for targeted mass testing, which has been seen as the most effective measure in other countries?” Labog points out.

The labor leader said DOH should review how other governments in Cuba, South Korea, Vietnam, and Singapore strategized mass testing, disease surveillance and ramping-up health service and social protection funding to effectively contain the spread of the virus.

Labog said the government should also see the approach to combat the Covid-19 pandemic “from the point of view of the Filipino workers and people and start focusing on concrete medical solutions like free targeted mass testing and treatment, increased budget for personal protective equipment, ensuring hazard and overtime pay, and transportation for frontline health workers.”

He warned that the government’s “militaristic approach and lack of concrete medical solutions” have caused great unrest among the people.

Meanwhile, the Rural Women Advocates said that mass testing should no longer be an option for it is a need and priority.

The group lamented the grave condition farmers are into despite being one of the front liners to the country’s food security.

KMU also criticized how the government’s P 27-billion “war chest” for Covid-19 as the tourism sector gets the biggest slice of the budget of P14-billion, while only allotted P 2-billion for wage subsidy from its P 9.5-billion for social protection for vulnerable workers,

“This is criminal negligence. It is unjust to force workers to sacrifice their jobs, health, and rights for the lockdown while the government has no other plan but bail-out big businesses while sitting and hoping that the virus and its infected patients die ‘naturally’,” Labog pointed out.

Labog also said the P-14 billion share of the tourism industry is five times more than the P3.1 billion allotted for the acquisition of test kits.

“The government should start testing patients not our patience. We will not tolerate their continued criminal negligence of our people’s health and rights,” Labog said.(davaotoday.com)

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