3,000 establishments nationwide permanently close, retrenched due to pandemic, DOLE says

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 25) — The Labor department says more than 3,000 establishments nationwide have permanently closed or cut back workforce due to the pandemic, leaving 90,000 workers jobless.

Labor Assistant Secretary Dominique Tutay told CNN Philippines’ Newsroom Ngayon on Thursday that there are also 104,000 establishments who chose to implement flexible work arrangements or have temporarily closed, affecting 2.8 million workers.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to increased unemployment in the country as businesses were forced to stop operations with the implementation of community quarantines across the country mid-March.

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported that there are 7.3 million unemployed adults in April, for an all-time high unemployment rate at 17.7 percent.

To help these dislocations, the government has been giving out assistance to affected individuals.

Tutay said the Labor department has so far given out P5,000 one-time cash assistance to 657,201 formal sector workers, while 337,000 workers from the informal sector were already assisted through its Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers or TUPAD.

For those that will not be covered by these programs, Tutay said the Department of Finance, Social Security System, and the Bureau of Internal Revenue opened a facility to give out two tranches of assistance to more than 3.4 million formal sector workers.

As for overseas Filipino workers, about 170,000 OFWs have received P10,000 cash assistance, she noted. This is part of the P2.5 billion allotted to help 250,000 OFW beneficiaries.

Tutay noted that there are currently about 354,000 OFWs affected by the pandemic, including 191,000 who are still overseas.

The Labor department also launched its OFW assistance information system, which targets to systematically record arriving OFWs, process their testing, and their travel back to their provinces.

Tutay said this is to prevent the problem encountered with the first batch of OFWs whose test results took more than a month before release, further delaying their travel back to their provinces.