Employers group sees increase in operational expenses as ‘new normal’ dawns

Marje Pelayo   •   May 1, 2020   •   929

MANILA, Philippines — The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) is gearing up for the resumption of businesses especially in Metro Manila in the advent of the “new normal”.

ECOP President Sergio Ortiz-Luiz Jr. said they have members who are now looking for larger spaces in order to comply with the new safety and health standards, specifically the social or physical distancing protocol.

With the new policy, they are expecting to incur higher operational expenses.

Lalo pa nga yung opisina sa manufacturing alam naman natin na kadalasan maliliit lang ang lugar nila. Ang social spacing natin siguro mahihirapan munang makapasok lahat ng empleyedo dahil maraming adjustment na gagawin,” Ortiz-Luiz said.

[Offices in the manufacturing sector, as we know, usually have small spaces. With such social spacing, it might be a struggle to allow all employees to come because of many adjustments that need to be done.]

I think, marami roon sa mga maliliit na kumpanya natin kung magbubukas man, siguro aabutin ng mga anim na buwan at least, para mag-100% na makabalik sa trabaho,” he added.

[I think, many of our small businesses even if they opt to open, it would take six more months before they allow 100 per cent of their workforce to come on site.]

Meanwhile, the group is also taking into consideration adopting a work-from-home arrangement for its workers, though it admits such a process will not be applicable to all sectors such as in hotel and restaurant services. 

Ortic-Luiz also noted that Internet connection in the Philippines is not as efficient and stable as that of other countries.

Iyong mga business processing syempre may problema din tayo sa security ng data [Of course, when it comes to business processing firms, the problem will be with data security],” he said.

The group said some of their members managed to release salaries for their employees even as the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) is imposed. 

Small-scale businesses, on the other hand, only depend on government aid for their employees. 

Meanwhile, employers may opt to defer Labor Day holiday pay for their employees until their respective companies recover.

However, labor groups said such changes in labor policies may result in payment cuts and removal of privileges among workers.

Kung luluwag (yung mga polisiya) baka lumiit yung sweldo, baka mabawasan yung binabayad sa SSS, PAGIBIG at Philhealth at magbabawas ng expenses sa paggamit ng personal protective equipment ng kanilang mga manggagawa,” argued Alan Tanjusay, spokesperson of the Associated Labor Union – Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP).

[If labor policies are relaxed, worker privileges may be cut like SSS, Pag-IBIG and PhilHealth benefits, and companies may opt to cut expenses for personal protective equipment for them.]

The labor group advises workers to stay at home and stay safe from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while changes are being made in their sector. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

DOH advises public: Don’t eat together, keep mask on in gatherings outside family bubble

Robie de Guzman   •   December 30, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday called on the public to remain vigilant and to reassess their plans for the holidays amid increasing cases of COVID-19 in the country.

The DOH made the appeal as it reported 1,623 additional COVID-19 cases in the country, bringing the total confirmed cases to 2,841,260. The latest tally is higher than the 889 recorded on Wednesday and over 300 in the previous days.

“With the newly-reported cases doubling the past two days, the DOH enjoins everyone to do what is within our power to avoid making the year 2022 another version of 2020. Let us act with utmost vigilance as if the highly transmissible Omicron variant is already here,” the agency said in a statement.

The DOH reiterated that the threat of COVID-19 remains despite wide COVID-19 vaccination coverage in the country.

With the holiday season, the agency urged the public to keep their celebrations safe by staying within the family bubble and limiting meetings to vaccinated individuals.

“The DOH calls on everyone, whether vaccinated or boosted to reassess their plans for New Year celebrations. [The] safest option will be to stay in your family bubble and avoid gatherings outside of your bubble,” it said.

But if they still prefer to meet with people outside their family, the agency advised the public to avoid eating together and keep their face masks on during the gathering.

“If you will still prefer to meet, then don’t eat together so you can safely keep your masks on while enjoying the company of family and friends outside of your bubble,” it said.

It also reminded families to have their elderly members vaccinated against COVID-19 as they are at most risk for critical and severe forms of the disease.

“Despite our progress in vaccination, we have approximately 1.5 million senior citizens who have yet to be vaccinated. They – who are at most risk of severe and critical COVID-19 – would be enough to fill our hospitals to the brim, leaving no room for others who have underlying conditions and are also high risk for admission,” the DOH said.

“We, thus, implore all families and caregivers to facilitate immediate vaccination and boosting of all senior citizens. The window to attain full protection before Omicron exposure is narrowing,” it added.

The DOH also urged local government units to conduct house-to-house vaccinations to achieve 100% coverage of the senior citizens’ population.

“Finally, do not discount any mild symptoms. Immediately isolate, get tested, and stay in isolation for 10 days. Notify your close contacts and ask them to quarantine for 7 days if fully vaccinated or 14 days if not vaccinated,” the DOH said.

Employers urge IATF to place NCR under alert level 2

Maris Federez   •   November 2, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Several business owners are calling on the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) to place the National Capital Region under alert level 2.

This is after the nation’s capital registered around 3,000 new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases on Monday.

The group perceived this as a start of the declining number of new cases as a result of the government’s vaccination rollout.

“Dapat binaba na yan noon pang September after August (noong) binago ang sistema. Wala na akong nakikitang rason kung bakit ang dami pang hindi makapagtrabaho, ang dami pang hindi makapasok, said Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr, President of the Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP).

The group calls on the government to allow them to adjust their operation amid the pandemic, noting that they do not see any reason why Metro Manila should not be placed under a lower alert level.

“Yung cases on its own wala namang ginagawang espesyal. Tuloy-tuloy lang naman ang bakuna. Wala namang nagawang espesyal e bumababa na talaga palagay ko for obvious reason na may cycle din siguro. At saka nagkakaroon ng immunity dahil sa vaccine siguro,” Ortiz-Luis said.

ECOP believes that should the economy fully open, businesses will have the opportunity to recover from their losses brought by the COVID-19 crisis.

The government’s technical advisory group on COVID-19, however, said they still need to further study the proposal.

“Kailangan po talagang pag-aralan yan. Alam naman natin very dynamic naman ang ating IATF sa pagtingin ng numbers. Yung number sa data graph ang important po. Yung on the ground po. Yung MMDA mayors na tinitingnan po talaga kung paano nagbibehave ang mga tao,” said Dr. Edsel Salvana of the DOH-Technical Advisory Group.

Malacañang, on its part, appeals to the public not to be too complacent amid the decreasing number of COVID-19 cases.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the need to observe the minimum health protocol is still the same.

“Bagamat ang datos nagpapakita nga po na maaaring magbaba sa alert level ang Metro Manila, importante huwag tayong magpabaya. Huwag tayong mag-isip na walang pandemya. Nandiyan pa rin si COVID-19. Magpatuloy pa tayo at lalong paigtingin ang mask, hugas, iwas,” he reiterated.

On the other hand, should the IATF approve the placement of NCR under Alert Level 2 in mid-November, business establishments will also be allowed to operate with up to 50% indoor capacity and 70% capacity outdoors. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)

Business recovery very likely as restrictions ease — employers group

Maris Federez   •   October 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) is confident that businesses will be able to recover soon as alert level restrictions begin to ease in selected areas in the country.

ECOP said that business owners are seeing gradual recovery from losses as protocols to counter the spread of COVID-19 relax.

“Kapag nagnonormal yung restrictions mag-uumpisa nang kumita ang mga iyan,” said ECOP president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr.

Ortiz-Luis added that it is now time for the government to allow companies to operate with a larger percentage of their workforce to help them recover.

He said all it takes for them is to implement stricter health protocols in their areas of employment.

Employers must also not make vaccination status a basis for accepting employees returning for work.

“Kapag tinanong mo meron din ilan-ilang nagpa-positve sa workplace eh. Pero kapag ininspeksiyon mo saan nakuha, hindi naman doon sa workplace eh. Nakuha sa paghanap ng sasakyan, pagpila sa kung ano-anong pinipilahan,” Ortiz-Luis said.

“Napakaraming pila: pila sa ayuda, pila sa COMELEC, pila sa paghanap ng sasakyan, paglalakad, pagtitipon, paghahanap ng pagkain. Doon nakukuha. Hindi sa workplace. Bakit hindi mo papasukin?” he added.

However, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) stressed that vaccination, alongside the efficient implementation of quarantine restrictions, is still the key to economic recovery.

“The continued decline in COVID-19  infection cases owing to the speedier COVID vaccine rollout and more effective granular lockdown will help underpin the economy’s gradual reopening,” said BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno.

Currently, the National Capital Region is under Alert Level 3 until the end of October, wherein several business establishments have been allowed to operate with limited capacity. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)

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