The consequences brought by the pandemic to businesses and to the private sector is not rocket science. The concurrent quarantine forced a lot of establishments to halt or modify their operations which meant the decrease in revenue.
Another problem that the private sector is currently facing is how to continue giving out benefits and compensation for employees. While there are companies who still have adequate resources to do so, other businesses had no choice but to implement a no work, no pay policy, leaving their staff close to, if not totally empty-handed.
Amid the ongoing fight against COVID-19, large companies in the country took the initiative to lend a helping hand to augment the efforts of the government. While we all have yet to witness the so-called donor fatigue, the private sector is once again given another burden, something that the government should be the one to address: mass testing.
On April 14, the government announced that it’s commencing the “progressive” mass testing procedures in the Philippines. More than a month after, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that the government is counting on the private sector to boost the testing capacity of the country.
The official also said that the government still has no plans yet for mass testing, which Roque later refuted.
Following this, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) issued a labor advisory that granted the private sector the burden of shouldering the costs of COVID-19 preventive measures which apart from mass testing, including disinfection facilities, and personal protective equipment.
The move drew flak from Filipinos who can’t help but ask, what happened to the emergency powers given to President Duterte which in the first place was granted to address COVID-19 concerns like mass testing? Under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, PHP 275 billion was allocated to fund efforts to combat the pandemic.
Labor groups like the Employers Confederation of the Philippines also expressed concern, saying that passing the responsibility of mass testing to private companies might lead to the shutdown of companies, especially those that are small- and medium-sized who might lack resources to finance it.
The government must address the matter at hand and think its decisions over before the pandemic takes a heavy toll on the economy and before the country is confronted with the rise in the unemployment rate.