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Dormant dieters




The suspension of public transportation to curtail travel under the Luzon-wide quarantine prevented tens of thousands of jeepney, tricycle and pedicab drivers in Metro Manila from earning a living. As these workers are mostly poor, city governments are prioritizing them in the distribution of cash and food assistance.

For jeepney and tricycle drivers in Makati City, 7,778 of them will each be given P2,000 cash. The 14,000 trike drivers and 1,000 pedicab drivers in Parañaque City were each given 10 trays of eggs and P1,000 cash vouchers. In Pasig City, drivers of some 12,000 tricycles, 5,800 jeepneys and 700 utility vans will each get P3,000.

The Philippines’ neighboring countries have their own lockdown that also affected different labor sectors. In Chiang Mai, Thailand, around 2,000 tourism-oriented “workers” are no longer earning because there are no more tourists around to serve.

Consequently, they are getting malnourished, stressed and on the brink of going berserk. Each of them needs P1,500 per day to buy 300 kilograms of food alone. But their employer is forced to restrict their diet and plans to obtain the equivalent of a P3 million loan just to feed them because government assistance is yet to come.

There are six options the workers can resort to if business operation does not resume soon. They can either beg for food, starve to death, work in the zoo, join the illegal logging trade or go to the forest to fend for themselves.

But Theerapat Trungprakan’s choice is none of the above. Instead, the president of the mahout association will not abandon the 2,000 “unemployed” elephants in different camps in Chiang Mai.

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