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Over 3,000 firms notified DOLE of temporary closure amid COVID-19 crisis, says Bello

More than 3,000 businesses in the country have informed the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) that they would be closing down their operations temporarily amid the COVID-19 crisis, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Sunday.

In a Dobol B sa News TV interview, Bello said that while no firm in the country has so far filed for bankruptcy, more than 200 have already notified the DOLE that they would be permanently closing down.

"'Yung mga nagparating sa amin ng notice na magsasara sila pero pansamantala lang naman, mahigit 3,000 na. Mula nu'ng January hanggang ngayon lang 'yan," he said.

Bello reiterated that there are already around 2.7 million workers whose livelihood were affected due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data even showed that 7.3 million were left jobless in April this year as a result of the economic impact of COVID-19, but Bello said this was only based on surveys and not on actual reports.

"Maaaring totoo 'yun pero ang kaibahan sa aming report, 'yung amin actual, 'yung talagang nagsabi na 'magsasara kami,'" he said.

"'Yung PSA kasi, survey 'yun and it's probably accurate. Sana naman ay hindi natin abutin 'yung puntong 'yun. Biruin mo, 7.3 million," he added.

Bello is hoping Congress would provide for an amelioration fund to help affected workers.

"Hindi ko alam kung ano ang plano ng Kongreso pero alam naman natin na ang House of Representatives at Senado ay concerned sila sa kalagayan ng ating mga manggagawa. Malaking bagay diyan 'yung ating mga manggagawa na mawalan ng trabaho, kahit temporary, pero siyempre, wala kang trabaho, wala kang kita," he said.

"Hopefully, ang Congress, with the approval of our President ay magbibigay ng konting tulong, amelioration fund para sa ating mga manggagawa na mawawalan ng trabaho," he added. 

The House of Representatives last month approved on final reading the bill which proposes a package of reforms, amounting to P1.3 trillion in total, to help address the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis in the country.

Under the said measure, wage subsidies will be provided to non-essential businesses (50% to 75% of wages), self-employed and freelancers (75% of minimum wage), and overseas Filipino workers (P15,000 per month), all for a period of two months.

A total of P110 billion for 2020 will be allocated for wage subsidies under the measure.

The existing cash-for-work (TUPAD) program of the DOLE will also now include COVID-19 related work, and has a funding of P30 billion. —Erwin Colcol/KG, GMA News