Delivery man’s death sparks new call to protect ‘gig economy’ workers

MANILA — Senator Risa Hontiveros on Monday reiterated her push for passage of a bill to “strengthen protections” for workers in the so-called “gig economy” following the death of a delivery man last week.

“Currently, delivery people are categorized as ‘independent contractors’ as opposed to employees. Therefore, they are not qualified to benefit from social protections under our labor laws to fill the said gaps,” Hontiveros said. in a press release.

Hontiveros’ new appeal was prompted by the death of Noel Escote, who was found dead “while resting on his motorbike” last week.

“Nakikiramay kami sa pamilya ni Noel Escote na binawian ng buhay sa gitna ng paghahapbuhay as a delivery man. May his death be a wake-up call to our colleagues in the legislature to act immediately on the pending bills that will ensure that the rights and well-being of the growing number of gig economy workers are upheld,” the senator said.

Hontiveros asked Escote’s employer to help their deceased employee “because he died while fulfilling his duty as a delivery courier”.

Last month, Hontiveros filed Senate Bill No. 1373 or the Protektadong Online Workers, Entrepreneurs, Riders at Raketera (POWERR) Act to protect the rights and welfare of workers in the gig economy. , including delivery workers and freelancers, who face low and precarious wages. working conditions.

One of the key points of the said measure is to ensure that these workers are enrolled in government social protection programs such as PhilHealth, SSS and Pag-IBIG, among others.

In addition, online platforms will be held liable for injuries suffered by workers in the performance of their duties, particularly among delivery people.

“Huwag naman sanang may buhay pa ulit na masakripisyo bago matugunan ang kanilang hinaing. Kailangan ng agarang aksyon upang maiwasan ang mga ganitong pangyayari lalo pa’t dumarami pa ang pumapasok in ganitong klase ng hanapbuhay,” Hontiveros said.

The Philippines ranked as the 6th fastest growing market for the gig economy in Payoneer’s 2019 Gig Economy Index, but the Department of Labor and Employment has admitted that the data was scarce on the number of Filipinos benefiting from this sector.


Earnest L. Veasey