26 September 2023

PHILIPPINES: PS ‘paralysed’ by pandemic

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The Philippines Public Service has been paralysed by the spread of Coronavirus with top officials self-isolating and key Government offices shutting their doors.

The Senate building, the Ministries of Finance and Education, the Central Bank and parts of a compound where President Rodrigo Duterte holds office were either on lockdown or “restricted access”.

The Asian Development Bank and a Government bank, both in Manila, also closed their headquarters.

Six Cabinet Ministers, nine Senators, the Governor of the Central Bank, three big-city mayors and a Congressman were under self-quarantine.

In the United States, Governor of California, Gavin Newsom signed an Executive Order that allowed the State to seize property and waived Public Service hiring restrictions in the interest of keeping services running.

It also waived some Government contracting regulations to speed purchasing as well as limits on the number of hours State employees and supervisors can work “to ensure adequate State staffing during this emergency”.

The Executive Order also allows for retired Public Servants to temporarily return to full-time work.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo waived the seven-day waiting period for workers to claim unemployment insurance for those that have been put out of work by COVID-19.

Elsewhere across the country States ordered public utilities not to disconnect customers who were struggling to pay their bills because of financial hardship resulting from the outbreak.

In Malta, the country’s doctors called for a mandatory quarantine for all the island nation’s residents.

In a meeting with the head of the Public Service, representatives of the Medical Association of Malta said the Italian and Chinese experience of COVID-19 showed that “half-measures, although well-intentioned, do not work”.

In Canada, the Public Service Alliance has put all its activities on hold until at least the end of the month, including a strike votes called by the Canada Revenue Agency, Treasury Board, and Parks Canada bargaining units.

Manila, 15 March 2020

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