MANILA, Philippines – Local government units (LGU) may now utilize the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) cash for work program, Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced (TUPAD) to recruit contact tracers, the labor chief said.
In a statement, DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that aside from Metro Manila, LGUs in other areas needing additional contact tracers may tap TUPAD beneficiaries as contact tracers in their respective jurisdictions.
Bello said he already informed the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) of this move to support the requirements of various LGUs for additional contact tracers, especially in areas with high cases of novel coronavirus disease.
DOLE regional directors have also been given the discretion to approve requests of local chief executives to tap TUPAD beneficiaries as contact tracers in their respective areas.
“In our meeting with the DILG, I already told Acting Secretary (Bernardo) Florece that he can allocate to any LGU the number of contact tracers to be employed under our TUPAD program,” he added.
Florece was designated as DILG officer in charge in March while Secretary Eduardo Año was on medical leave.
TUPAD is an emergency employment program for displaced informal sector workers. Beneficiaries are provided with temporary employment that runs between 10 days to 30 days, and paid the prevailing daily minimum wage in their respective areas.
Beneficiaries are normally those displaced by natural calamities like typhoon, earthquake, volcanic eruption or disasters and accidents like fire, among others.
“Since the DILG has problems funding the contact tracing of LGUs, I thought it wise to offer our TUPAD program for that purpose,” Bello said.
“In this manner, we are not only providing emergency employment to our displaced workers but also helping the urgent need of the community to stop the spread of the disease through contact tracing,” he added.
At the height of the lockdowns last year, DOLE said that TUPAD beneficiaries were engaged to undertake disinfection and sanitation of their homes and immediate neighborhood to contain the spread of the virus.
Bello had initially offered 14,000 TUPAD beneficiaries as contact tracers for the requirements of LGUs in the National Capital Region and the provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite, and Laguna for a duration of one month.
But Metro Manila mayors requested that contract tracers be employed for three months instead for an allocation of P230 million equivalent to close to 5,000 contact tracers.
“The application and processing for NCR contact tracers under TUPAD started on Saturday and ends on April 22,” DOLE said.