Lest they be completely forgotten, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go reminded the state to support entertainment industry workers displaced by the COVID-19 crisis.
Go was referring to live events workers of those behind the scenes (BTS) as well as those engaged in businesses that cannot operate at this time because of quarantine restrictions.
“Dahil sa COVID-19, may mga industriya talagang hindi makapag-operate ngayon. Bawal ang pagtitipon kaya tulad nung mga nasa live events organizing, kailangan maghanap ng ibang pagkakakitaan,” Go said.
“Bukod pa diyan, ang mga tao sa entertainment industry ay apektado rin po, lalong lalo na ‘yung ordinaryong manggagawa tulad nung parte ng mga production crew bilang halimbawa. Ito po ‘yung mga kababayan nating bumubuhay sa industriya ng sining na ngayon ay hirap makabalik sa kabuhayan nila.”
The live events industry consists of events such as meetings, conferences, exhibitions, concerts involving international and local artists, theatrical productions, corporate, social, cultural, fashion, sporting and club events, weddings and family celebrations, trade fairs and exhibits, and sampling activities.
“Tulungan nating mapagaan ang pinapasan ng mga nasa ganitong uri ng industriya. Wala pong dapat mapabayaan sa panahon ngayon. Magbayanihan tayo para malampasan ang krisis na ito at makabangon agad ang bawat Pilipino,” Go said.
Go also hopes that once data shows more recoveries and the spread of COVID-19 is eventually controlled, more provinces and cities under modified general community quarantine can provide guidelines to resume operations in accordance with required health protocols.
The senator urged agencies, such as the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Labor and Employment, to look into the situation of these displaced workers and ensure that there are programs that can assist them in overcoming the burden caused by the ongoing crisis.
“May mga existing programs naman po ang mga ahensya ng gobyerno para sa displaced workers. Siguraduhin po natin na hindi mapabayaan ang mga nasa industriyang ito,” said Go.
Go also suggested that businesses engaged in affected industries avail of emergency loans and financing program for micro, small and medium enterprises. DTI is currently implementing COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) program under the Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (P3) program, which aims to help enterprises stabilize or recover from losses due to the health crisis.
Through DTI’s Small Business Corporation, CARES Program is part of government relief effort for micro, small and medium enterprises affected by COVID-19. MSMEs operating for at least a year prior to 16 March 2020 and with assets not exceeding P15 million can avail of it. Micro enterprises with asset size not exceeding P3 million may borrow from P10,000 to P200,000 while small enterprises with assets not more than P15 million may apply for a loan not exceeding P500,000. Discounted interest is at 0.5% only with grace period of six months on principal payments.
The senator suggested further that the Department of Social Welfare and Development provide emergency assistance to affected individuals belonging in these industries through their Assistance for Individuals in Crisis Situations Program.
The National Live Events Coalition (NLEC) recently appealed for government assistance for their members, highlighting that the live events industry, comprised of businesses and industry professionals, institutions, agencies, technical and staging providers, concert and festival producers, wedding and social events planners, venues, performers and freelance production workforce, have faced lost opportunities and revenues due to COVID-19.
Live events organizing is a multi-billion industry that provides employment to several thousands of people. NLEC says the industry is composed of 30,000 MSMEs. Yet, due to the health crisis and the protocols in place, such as social distancing and prohibition against large crowd gatherings, the industry suffered huge losses, displacing thousands of its workers while the country continues to fight the pandemic.
The organization also added that since they are losing clients due to the COVID-19 outbreak, some MSMEs related to the industry may have to close down or will operate only at 10% capacity.
“This is definitely a huge blow to our economy and the huge contribution it could have brought. More importantly, maraming Pilipino ang mawawalan ng kabuhayan,” Go said.
Although the live events industry sector is not specified in the latest Senate version of the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, Go is urging the country’s economic managers to look into the matter and explore more opportunities for the government to extend help to this sector in these trying times.
“May mga provisions sa Senate version ng Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) para sa mga subsidies, loan programs at iba pang social assistance na pwedeng makatulong sa mga empleyado ng ganitong industriya,” Go said.
Go, a member of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee monitoring the progress of the implementation of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, had earlier appealed to the government to provide help and additional support to MSMEs.
“Malaking parte ng bumubuhay sa ating ekonomiya ay ang mga MSMEs. Tulungan natin silang buhayin ang kanilang negosyo at maiahon ang kanilang mga empleyado habang nasa panahon ng krisis ang buong bansa,” Go said as he also highlighted that he has seen many MSMEs struggle to keep businesses afloat amid COVID-19 crisis.
Go’s previous appeal helped paved the way for the implementation of the Small Businesses Wage Subsidy program. Under the SBWS program, each eligible worker belonging to the low to medium-middle class under the identified affected business will be provided with a wage subsidy between P5,000 and P8,000 as indicated by the Department of Finance guidelines and implemented by the Social Security System.