Communities can do more in fight vs COVID-19 than staying at home, labor groups say
This April 14, 2020 photo shows a community kitchen at Sitio San Roque in Barangay Bagong Pag-asa in Quezon City.
Save San Roque Facebook page

Communities can do more in fight vs COVID-19 than staying at home, labor groups say

Gaea Katreena Cabico ( - April 14, 2020 - 4:55pm

MANILA, Philippines — The government should tap organized working people to help in its fight against the spread of the novel coronavirus at the community level, labor groups said Tuesday.

Half of the country’s population was ordered to stay home in a drastic bid to arrest the spread of the contagion that has infected more than 5,000 in the Philippines. The quarantine of Luzon, which is extended until April 30, also effectively halted business and commerce on the island.

Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino, Partido Lakas ng Masa and Sanlakas said the solidarity and action of people are needed to combat the growing health crisis.

Community kitchens and gardens

The labor groups said that community-based action against the pandemic and to address the economic effects of the quarantine could include organizing them to make masks, gloves and protective gear and having community washers provide services to frontliners and essential workers who have been exempted from quarantine restrictions.

Community kitchens can also be organized to feed frontliners and poor people while farmers and fishers’ groups can engage in community gardens for local food production, they also said.

Residents of Sitio San Roque in Barangay Bagong Pag-asa in Quezon City have already set up a community kitchen that they run themselves, the Save San Roque alliance said in a social media post on Tuesday.

"From buying and preparing the ingredients to cooking nutritious food, and yes—even distributing the food to their neighbors," Save San Roque, which accepts donations for the community kitchen, said.

Workers who have been displaced or have had their jobs disrupted by the quarantine can also be tapped by their barangays to help with peace and order and with ensuring physical distancing guidelines are followed, the labor groups said. 

Displaced workers can also help in the efficient delivery of goods and services while idled construction workers could also help build quarantine facilities, they.

"Unleash the enormous power of the organized masses in the community. The workforce of the organized masses is society’s reserve army against such social menace. Unleash it and utilize it to supplement our current frontline," the labor groups said in a statement.

“A community-based approach that taps the reserved force of the organized working people can help government effort to effectively combat COVID-19 at the community level,” the groups also said.

Funding by billionaires

The labor organizations said the financing of the community-based approach against COVID-19, for example in supplying sewers with materials for making face masks, should be shouldered by the country’s top 10 billionaires.

"Is it too much to ask for you to be first to sacrifice in times of crisis? Do consider the proposal of purchasing billions worth of zero interest government securities. The odds are not even a loss nor a breakeven," they said.

The groups added: "You own most firms that produce the people’s needs and facilitate the circulation of money and commodities. All of this will eventually end up to line your pockets but before it does, it will trickle down to feed and cater to the needs of a hungry and quarantined population."

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