Group urges fast delivery of ‘ayuda‘ to informal waste workers

Group urges fast delivery of âayudaâ to informal waste workers
A surgical face mask washes up on the shore of so-called Baseco Beach in Manila.
Philstar.com / EC Toledo IV

MANILA, Philippines — A toxics watchdog group Monday called on the national government to respond to the special needs of workers in the informal waste sector with the extension of the enhanced community quarantine in the so-called NCR+ bubble.

In a statement, environmental group EcoWaste Coalition called attention to workers in the sector, particularly women workers, who are affected by the movement restrictions imposed by the national government through the hundreds of police checkpoints in the bubble. 

“Women in the informal waste sector face extra challenges due to household chores and their heavy responsibilities as mothers, wives and workers,” Aileen Lucero, who serves as national coordinator of the coalition said in the statement.

“Members of the sector are among those hardest hit by the COVD-19 lockdowns because of the restrictions on movements that disallow them from going door to door or roaming the streets to recover recyclable materials from waste."

Thousands have been arrested in the checkpoints since the ECQ was first imposed, on top of the thousands more who have been fined and apprehended since the uniform Metro Manila curfew was put in place. 

The group in its statement cited the National Framework Plan for the Informal Sector in Solid Waste Management, which they said covers “individuals, families, groups or small enterprises engaged in the recovery of waste materials either on a full-time or part-time basis with revenue generation as the motivation.”

“IWS workers contribute to positive economic impacts on the overall solid waste management,” handl(ing) large volumes of waste materials at practically no cost to the government or taxpayers,” the framework plan says. 

Some 22.9 million poor Filipinos making up 80% of the National Economic and Development Authority's estimated low-income population within the NCR+ bubble are set to receive aid from the government. 

Each resident will be receiving P1,000 in kind or cash, an amount progressive groups have said is grossly insufficient. 

“With their work further disrupted due to the extended ECQ in the NCR Plus, informal waste workers who are daily wage earners will need rapid and adequate assistance to enable them to meet their basic human survival needs. While cash or in-kind assistance will not replace daily loss of earnings, the much anticipated ‘ayuda’ in this difficult period will help in improving the dire conditions for individuals and families in the IWS,” Lucero said.

“Even those who may already be receiving assistance through the 4Ps will still need extra money to meet their essential needs. We trust national and local authorities will act with dispatch to ensure the speedy delivery of assistance to the IWS amid the continuing pandemic...It’s the least we can do to show our appreciation to the unsung IWS frontliners in the recovery of post-consumer waste in our communities." — Franco Luna



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