Philippine Catholic Church leaders paid tribute to the country’s workers on Friday, April 30, ahead of the observance of International Labor Day on May 1.
“Please know that you are prayed for, you are remembered,” said Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
The prelate said the Church is “mindful of the great difficulties” that workers face, especially during the pandemic.
“Giving St. Joseph as patron saint for workers and of laborers is a sign that the heart and mind of the Church is with you,” added the archbishop.
The Catholic Church marks every first of May, Labor Day, as the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker.
Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila, head of the Episcopal Commission on the Laity, appealed to the government for subsidies for workers, particularly those who lost their jobs due to the pandemic.
Bishop Arturo Bastes, retired prelate of Sorsogon, also called for consideration for “the plight of so many people deprived of work because of the pandemic.”
“Perhaps the government should subsidize the households of laid-off workers with monthly allocation of some amount of cash and goods such as rice and other food stuffs,” said the prelate.
He said the government should minimize spending on luxurious and unnecessary expenditures in favor of the poor who are deprived of work.
“The budget of help for these people deprived of their right to work and compensation should be a priority,” he said.
Bishop Ruperto Santos of the Episcopal Commission on the Pastoral Care or Migrants and Itinerant People, meanwhile, paid tribute to migrants and seafarers.
“Amidst separation from our country and amidst this troubling and trying times … they continue effectively and efficiently in their work places,” he said.
“We appreciate and are grateful for their resiliency, courage, and strength to labor harder and honestly for our country and for their family,” said Bishop Santos of Balanga.
He expressed hope for the enactment of laws that will benefit and protect migrant workers and seafarer from “unjust, unfair practices.”
“Let us continue to promote their rights and always prevent them from exploitation and from scrupulous agencies, and employers,” he said.
He asked diocesan migrant ministries and chaplaincies to pray and offer Holy Masses for the workers.
Workers’ groups are expected to mark Labor Day this year with protests, webinars, and other activities that aim to highlight labor rights issues.
Some protesters will bring the fight online as quarantine restrictions are still being implemented in the national capital and other provinces.