Groups Seek Speedy Provision of “Ayuda” to Informal Waste Workers as ECQ is Reimposed in Metro Manila

Community-based organizations of the informal waste sector (IWS) pressed the government for fast delivery of cash and food assistance as Metro Manila braces for the most restrictive enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to stem the spread of the more transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant.

Together with the EcoWaste Coalition, concerned IWS organizations in Caloocan City (Samahan ng mga Mangangalakal sa Bagong Silang and the Samahan ng mga Mangangalakal sa San Vicente Ferrer, Camarin), Malabon City (Nagkakaisang Lakas ng mga Mangangalakal sa Longos), and Manila City (Samahan ng mga Mangangalakal ng Scrap sa Capulong and the Samahan ng Muling Pagkabuhay Multi-Purpose Cooperative) appealed for immediate ECQ assistance amid the stay-at-home orders.

The latest reimposition of ECQ to curb the dreaded COVID-19 Delta variant should be matched with well-timed provision of ayuda in cash and in kind that will put enough food on the table, especially for the daily wage earners like the informal waste workers, the groups insisted.

“Ang hiling namin ay mabigyan kami ng makakain sa araw-araw dahil wala naman kaming mapagkukunan ng pambili ng makakain kung hindi papayagang makalabas para makapamili ng kalakal at makapagbaklas,” said Ronaldo Sarmiento, of the Samahan ng mga Mangangalakal ng Scrap sa Capulong (SMNC) based in Tondo, Manila.

“Ayaw man namin ay may magpipilit na lumabas pa rin para makapangalakal dahil ito lamang ang aming pinagkakakitaan.  Para maiwasan na kami ay lumabas sa gitna ng peligro ng COVID-19 Delta variant, hiling naming mga e-waste dismantler na magkaroon ng suporta sa pangaraw-araw na pangangailangan hanggang payagan kaming muli na makapangalakal,” said Benedicto Nario of the Samahan ng mga Mangangalakal sa Bagong Silang (SMBS) in Caloocan City.

“We are one with the informal waste workers and their families in urging the authorities to listen and act on their plea for sufficient assistance to see them through the two-week work disruption,” said Jover Larion, Safe PCB and E-Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.   

“We also appeal to electricity and water providers not to proceed with any service disconnection due to unpaid bills during the ECQ.  The IWS families and other monetary poor and vulnerable households, in particular, will appreciate such a caring response from concerned companies during these tough times,” he added.

The EcoWaste Coalition further urged the government to ramp up vaccinations of the citizenry during the 14-day ECQ amid the rising threat of COVID-19 Delta variant.

As defined under the National Framework Plan for the Informal Sector in Solid Waste Management, the IWS includes “individuals, families, groups or small enterprises engaged in the recovery of waste materials either on a full-time or part-time basis with revenue generation as the motivation.”

“IWS workers contribute to positive economic impacts on the overall solid waste management,” handl(ing) large volumes of waste materials at practically no cost to the government or taxpayers,” according to the said framework plan.