MANILA, Philippines — From 12,000, the Department of Labor and Employment would now only be hiring 4,754 contact tracers under its program for displaced workers due to budgetary constraints.
“Because we had to take into account the budget, we had to reduce it,” Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns director Ma. Karina Perida-Trayvilla said partly in Filipino during a media briefing.
Perida-Trayvila explained that the cut in the number of contact tracers who would be deployed in Metro Manila to augment the contact tracing teams of the interior department happened because of appeals to extend the working days of displaced workers who would be hired under the program from 30 days to 90 days.
She said that the DOLE only has around P232 million to pay the nearly 5,000 workers who would be employed as contact tracers at P537 per four-hour working day.
She added that those who would become contact tracers under DOLE’s Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) program would be covered by accident insurance.
However, the DOLE is leaving healthcare assistance, like free coronavirus testing, and the provision of personal protective equipment to local governments where the contact tracers would be deployed.
Additional contact tracers would beef up the country’s contact tracing efforts. This, however, has been lacking from the start and has been flagged as “deteriorating” by contact tracing czar Benjamin Magalong. — Xave Gregorio
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