QC solon pushes for free COVID-19 testing for jobseekers, vulnerable workers

QC solon pushes for free COVID-19 testing for jobseekers, vulnerable workers

News, Alfred Vargas

1/16/2022 6:30:00 PM

QC solon pushes for free COVID-19 testing for jobseekers, vulnerable workers

Quezon City Representative Alfred Vargas filed a bill making COVID-19 testing free for Filipino job seekers; vulnerable workers in micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs); and the informal economy.

“This measure hopes to promote the safety and welfare of our hardworking fellow Filipinos and ensure the sustainability of the businesses that lift up our nation from this economic downturn,” Vargas said.HB 10671 mandates the Department of Health (DOH), as well as other concerned national government agencies, to provide “free and accessible” COVID-19 testing for these sectors.

The measure also directs that test results shall not be used to discriminate against employees or circumvent and defeat protections for labor.Under the proposed law, public testing centers are required to set aside a percentage of their daily testing capacity for covered workers. The DOH will also incentivize accredited private testing centers that allocate a similar proportion.

Read more: GMA News »

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In filing House Bill (HB) No. 10671 or the “Free COVID-19 Testing to Promote Labor Act”, Vargas said that employees who are excluded from current free testing packages under PhilHealth, as well as small businesses and job-makers who could no longer bear their workers’ regular costly tests, would be prioritized. “This measure hopes to promote the safety and welfare of our hardworking fellow Filipinos and ensure the sustainability of the businesses that lift up our nation from this economic downturn,” Vargas said. HB 10671 mandates the Department of Health (DOH), as well as other concerned national government agencies, to provide “free and accessible” COVID-19 testing for these sectors. The measure also directs that test results shall not be used to discriminate against employees or circumvent and defeat protections for labor. Under the proposed law, public testing centers are required to set aside a percentage of their daily testing capacity for covered workers. The DOH will also incentivize accredited private testing centers that allocate a similar proportion. The initial implementation of the law will be charged against PhilHealth and subsequent funding will be included in the annual general appropriations. While Congress addressed the vulnerability of both Filipino employers and workers during the pandemic, as shown by social and economic provisions of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act and Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, Vargas said that more needs to be done to offer more protection to the labor sector. The proposed free COVID-19 testing would “fill a gap in social welfare and pro-labor policy,” he stressed. — DVM, GMA News