“The scheme is devastating for poor wage-earners who normally have to pay for the food out of their own pockets.”

 

It does not even make sense to ask just how helpful the government cash aid of P1,000 for individuals or P4,000 for low-income households is with the extended Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in the NCR-Plus area. 

We might see a slightly lower rate of increase in COVID-19 cases reported but more Filipinos have been rendered jobless and more are experiencing extreme poverty. 

To be able to somehow earn a living, quite a number of people have resorted to food delivery service which is allowed by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) guidelines. This is an essential economic activity under ECQ. 

These so-called food delivery partners, riders, or bikers, have in fact provided a vital type of public service since the Luzon-wide lockdown last year. 

It has offered us the option of ordering food instead of us having to go out to the public market or grocery stores and cook our meals, as well as avoid exposure to crowds and risk infection. 

They put themselves at risk of contracting the virus in the course of performing their jobs. 

Unfortunately, we have some kababayan who have no appreciation of the valuable service that food delivery workers do. 

And such unscrupulous individuals who cannot think of better things to do, particularly during curfew hours, have the propensity to pull prank orders.

I have been receiving more and more complaints from food delivery riders over prank orders or “fake bookings” made online to various fast-food establishments, and they end up paying for the undelivered food supposedly paid cash on delivery.

Riders told me pranksters use spare phone numbers but never show up at the given delivery address and would not respond to the rider’s phone calls, anymore. 

In some sinister schemes, multiple fake bookings are made to several fast-food or restaurants, and two or three food delivery riders end up meeting at the bogus customer address.

This is devastating for these poor wage-earners who normally have to pay for the food out of their own pockets or “e-wallet” which they have to maintain.

In case of no-show incidents, some riders get reimbursements after reporting the canceled order. The rest do not.

One food delivery rider was recently victimized by a prank order.  He told me he had to sacrifice the money he has been saving for the joint birthday celebration of his two children.

“Napaiyak na lang ako sa tabi ng daan, sir.  Biruin nyong pinag-tyagaan ko ipunin yung pera para makapag-pansit man lang kami.  Naipang-abono ko pa dahil sa nanloloko,” Manong said.

It is about time that the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) cyber-crime units seriously went after these online pranksters who place false orders for food delivery. 

I know that the PNP and NBI authorities are totally capable of tracking down these heartless culprits and make them pay for their acts of “economic sabotage.”

Food delivery workers chose to take on a decent job to shell out a few hundred pesos for their families under these extremely difficult times. 

Rain or shine, they render services that are as important as those other frontliners provide.

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