December 1, 2023

The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) is recommending the extensive use of data analytics to break down the demographic profile of positive cases for targeted interventions.
Reacting to news on possible reversion of Metro Manila to the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the largest Philippine employer organization recognizes that the growing number of Covid-19 cases is a result of the increased capacity to test by the private sector and government. The aggregate number may continue to rise as more tests are conducted.
ECOP is gravely concerned that going back to ECQ will make it all the more difficult for the economy to bounce back because under this scheme, only businesses offering selected essential services will be allowed to operate.
Add to this is the huge amount of resources needed to feed these families that will be locked down in their homes. Most of these family members are also possibly the ones out on the streets seeking livelihood opportunities or reporting for work with great difficulty due to transport shortage and cumbersome border checkpoints.
“It will be an injustice to blame the people for going out to work,” said Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis Jr., president of ECOP.
“By and large the people are really cooperating but they are desperately looking for livelihood sources for survival. These are the ones coming out from the quarantine. So government needs to respond based on data from improved contact tracing. While I understand that geographic-based indicators are now available already, we still need to get the other factors such as nature of work and workplace, gender and health condition. Then the intervention can be more specific, well targeted, and localized quarantine measures may be put in place.”
Ortiz-Luis agreed with proposals for mass testing but these should not be mandated on all employers, particularly the micro, small, and medium enterprises that were heavily affected by the crisis.
ECOP has expressed in a separate statement its concern on the Department of Health’s call for business owners to conduct random Covid-19 testing for their employees through rapid tests every two weeks.
“Business owners are not government or health insurance companies. The government, which has the resources and logistics at its disposal, must be able to cover, if not subsidize the people’s needs in fighting this virus,” the group said.
A survey by the Department of Trade and Industry in April showed that 52.66 percent of MSMEs have shut down, 12.55 percent have limited operations, and 34.79 percent managed to continue their operations.
“To require business owners to conduct at their own cost random Covid-19 rapid test for their employees and repeat it every two weeks will be a heavy additional financial burden and drive those still operating to eventual closure,” Ortiz-Luis said.
He however acknowledged that there are large companies which have been testing their employees through antibody rapid test kits as part of their health protocols.
“ECOP supports these voluntary initiatives by companies that can afford, as they demonstrate good corporate social responsibility,” he added. – Press release