BARMM asserts inclusion of its labor force in national aid

Minister Romeo Sema of the BARMM’s Ministry of Labor and Employment (File Photo)
COTABATO CITY – Top officials of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) are asserting the right of their constituent labor workers to receive what their counterparts in other regions got from the national government subsidies for sectors affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The pandemic has adversely affected 12,037 formal workers and 22,863 informal workers in the BARMM, according to the Ministry of Labor and Employment (MOLE).

But MOLE Minister Romeo Sema clarified that none of their accounted labor work forces have received any share from the so-called COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) or the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Displaced / Disadvantaged Workers Program (TUPAD) from the national government.

He said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), which implements CAMP and TUPAD, had omitted BARMM from its list of 16 regions allocated with assistance subsidies ranging from P5,000 and P8,000 per affected worker.

Sema told the Manila Bulletin that in his communications with national officials, he learned that the DOLE hierarchy thought that the BARMM, being autonomous, would have its own fund for its labor forces.

By the time the error was realized, the DOLE had already run out of funds for both CAMP and TUPAD beneficiaries, he said.

On April 27, presidential spokesman Harry Roque confirmed that DOLE ran out of funds for its cash aid programs but assured that Malacañang will look for more funds to finance cash subsidies for those left out.

BARMM Cabinet Minister Mohammad Asnin Pendatun on Tuesday said the autonomous government was “exerting all possible initiatives” for the left out formal and informal workers to get paid as a matter of right.

The total amount needed to pay 12,037 formal workers and 22,863 informal workers left out in the DOLE list is P117.3-million, Minister Sema said in a budget proposal he submitted to the Office of BARMM Chief Minister Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim.

Sema and Pendatun said BARMM’s spokesman and Local Government Minister also raised the issue in a teleconference by the National Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 last Monday.

Chief Minister Ebrahim, in an evening teleconference with his regional cabinet members that lasted until 1 a.m. on Wednesday, reportedly conceded to the suggestion for him to take up the issue with President Duterte.