The head of the city’s disaster group, Nagiel Bañacia, said at least 221 boatmen from Barangay Punta Engaño have lost their livelihood owing to the drop in the number of tourists that visit the city and Mactan Island due to the COVID-19 scare.
AFP/Ted Aljibe
Virus takes toll on local jobs
Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon (The Freeman) - February 26, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  Residents of Lapu-Lapu City who rely on tourism as source of income are reeling from the effects of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The head of the city’s disaster group, Nagiel Bañacia, said at least 221 boatmen from Barangay Punta Engaño have lost their livelihood owing to the drop in the number of tourists that visit the city and Mactan Island due to the COVID-19 scare.

Aside from the boatmen, babysitters, housekeepers, cooks, tourist car drivers and those working in the aqua-sport facilities are also affected by the situation, said Annabeth Cuizon, head of the city’s social welfare department.

"Kadaghanan gyud ang apektado mao ang mga boatmen nga usually mo-cater og mga foreigners nga mag-island hopping. Unya karon kay gamay na man lang ang mga turista, mao wa na silay trabaho (Most of those affected are boatmen who usually cater to tourists who want to go island hopping. Because no tourists are arriving, they lost their jobs)," Cuizon said.

By extension, babysitters are also affected.

"Kay naa man uban nga mga turista nga, for example, mag-diving ang mga ginikanan  unya ilang pabantayan ilang anak (There are parents who leave their children with babysitters when they go diving, for example)," Cuizon said.

A babysitter could reportedly earn up to P700 a day.

Cebu attracted 1.4 million foreign tourists in 2019, many of whom entered the island and the country via the Mactan Cebu International Airport in Lapu-Lapu City.

Lapu-Lapu City has several hotel and resorts, as well as diving shops and other water leisure facilities.

Food Assistance

Bañacia said Mayor Junard Chan has already directed Cuizon’s department to distribute five kilos of rice, canned goods, and noodles to each of the 221 boatmen, as well as to other residents who lost their income.

Chan also directed Cuizon to initiate food- for-work programs so that those affected by the situation can start earning again as soon as possible.

In a post on his Facebook page, Chan said controlling the number of tourists arriving is the city’s way to prevent the possibility of the virus entering Lapu-Lapu and Cebu in general.

Lapu-Lapu City is where the Mactan Cebu International Airport is located.

"Ubay ubay sa atong mga kaigsuonan ang tinuod nga na apektohan ang panginabuhi tungod kay limitado na karon ang mga turista nga mobisita sa atong dakbayan, kay kita nag amping pud sa hulga sa sakit na COVID-19. Mao ako, dali dali og duol kanila para makatabang (The livelihood of many of our residents is affected because of the very limited number of tourists visiting the city these days since we’re also avoiding the COVID-19. That’s why we gave them assistance right away)," Chan wrote on his Facebook page.

Livelihood Program

Meanwhile, Cuizon said they will conduct profiling in every barangay in Lapu-Lapu to determine the total number of residents who lost their jobs.

Those who will be identified can be enrolled in the Sustainable Livelihood Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development or TESDA's Techvoc.

"We know that this is not enough and we know that this is only the beginning. There will be a lot of workers who may be displaced later if this virus will continue to spread, God forbid.  In this light, the city government will provide alternative opportunities for these workers to earn income by giving them trainings and other livelihood activities," she wrote on Facebook.

And the rising number of COVID-19 cases in South Korea isn’t helping the economic situation in Lapu-Lapu City.

Most of the tourists in the Philippines come from South Korea with 1,785,357 vacationers in just 11 months.

Yesterday, South Korea reported it now has 893 cases, the largest national total anywhere outside China. Eight have died from the virus in the country.

Even Department of Health-7 Director Jaime Bernadas said there is reason to be anxious.

"We can be anxious because this is the consequence that many people are infected and we can expect more contamination," Bernadas said. JMO (FREEMAN)

COVID-19
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