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As lockdown looms, community groups urge ‘ayuda‘ for informal waste workers

Philstar.com
As lockdown looms, community groups urge âayudaâ for informal waste workers
Photo shows community volunteers under the Nagkakaisang Mamamayan ng Legarda, Inc. "Gulayan Kontra COVID-19" project.
Supplied / Urban Poor Associates

MANILA, Philippines — With Metro Manila back in Enhanced Community Quarantine later this week, groups on Monday urged the national government for cash and food assistance for informal waste workers.

In a joint statement, groups said that the latest reimposition of stay-at-home orders should be paired with the provision of ayuda in cash and kind to put food on the table for daily wage earners like informal waste workers.

“We are one with the informal waste workers and their families in urging the authorities to listen and act on their plea for sufficient assistance to see them through the two-week work disruption,” said Jover Larion, Safe PCB and E-Waste campaigner for EcoWaste Coalition.   

“We also appeal to electricity and water providers not to proceed with any service disconnection due to unpaid bills during the ECQ. The IWS families and other monetary poor and vulnerable households, in particular, will appreciate such a caring response from concerned companies during these tough times."

The statement was signed by the following groups: 

  • EcoWaste Coalition
  • Samahan ng mga Mangangalakal sa Bagong Silang and the Samahan ng mga Mangangalakal sa San Vicente Ferrer, Camarin (Caloocan City) 
  • Nagkakaisang Lakas ng mga Mangangalakal sa Longos (Malabon City) 
  • Samahan ng mga Mangangalakal ng Scrap sa Capulong and the Samahan ng Muling Pagkabuhay Multi-Purpose Cooperative (Manila City)

No clear details yet on government aid

The last iteration of ECQ in Metro Manila saw poor families receiving P1,000 in kind or cash from the government, an amount progressive groups said was grossly insufficient at the time. 

Details on the possible rollout of cash and material aid remain scant this time around. Officials have said there will be financial but have not disclosed how much it will be and who will be covered. It is also yet unclear where the money for financial aid will come from.

The enhanced community quarantine is set to be imposed starting Friday, August 6, but the national police have already put up quarantine checkpoints in and around the so-called NCR Plus bubble ahead of the official ECQ activation. Consequently, daily wage earners have had a harder time commuting due to long lines at the control points. 

“Our request is that we be given food every day because we do not have the resources to buy food if we are not allowed to go out to buy goods,” said Ronaldo Sarmiento, of the Samahan ng mga Mangangalakal ng Scrap sa Capulong based in Tondo, Manila.

“We don't want anyone to try to go out to gather scrap but that's our only source of income. To prevent us from going out in the middle of the risk of the COVID-19 Delta variant, we ask e-waste dismantlers to have support for day-to-day needs until we are allowed to trade again,” Benedicto Nario of the Samahan ng mga Mangangalakal sa Bagong Silang in Caloocan City said in Filipino.

The EcoWaste Coalition further urged the government to ramp up vaccinations of the citizenry during the 14-day ECQ amid the rising threat of COVID-19 Delta variant.

Why the informal waste sector matters

As defined under the National Framework Plan for the Informal Sector in Solid Waste Management, the IWS includes “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 [by handling] large volumes of waste materials at practically no cost to the government or taxpayers,” the framework plan reads.

ECOWASTE COALITION ENHANCED COMMUNITY QUARANTINE INFORMAL WASTE SECTOR
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