Speech by João Oliveira in Assembly of the Republic

We endorse measures aimed at prevention and social support and we distance ourselves from the State of Emergency

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Mr. President of the Parliament,
Mr. Prime-Minister,
Ladies and Gentlemen, Members of the Parliament,

The measures aimed at preventing and containing the spread of the virus are not the measures under the State of Emergency and PCP will not allow the former to be confused with the latter.

We remain convinced that Portugal requires measures aimed at preventing and containing the spread of the virus and we underline the reservations that we have regarding the State of Emergency and that explain our distancing therefrom.

Portugal does not have to be bound by a State of Emergency while the prevention and containment measures against the epidemic outbreak are in place, because a State of Emergency is not what the country requires at this moment in time.

Portugal does indeed require prevention and containment measures aimed at addressing the viral outbreak. We require those measures that are currently in place and we may require additional ones that the health authorities deem necessary. We require, more obviously, protection measures for those who have to go to work every day and for the social groups that are most vulnerable or at risk. We need those measures to be complied with, as they have been by the population in general, so that they may achieve the results that experts tell us they are actually achieving. And we require measures to strengthen the National Health Service so that it may adequately address the present epidemic.

Those measures do not require the declaration of a State of Emergency.

Portugal urgently requires more comprehensive economic and social measures. We require measures to protect employment and to support those who find themselves without an income but have bills to pay. We require measures to support national production and, first and foremost, agro-food production, so that we do not have to face an even more serious situation in the future.

And it is essential that we put an end, firmly and decisively, to the law of the jungle that is beginning to fall upon the lives of workers and the people.

Every day we hear about wrongful dismissals, without any legal basis, in some cases even with the use of coercion and threats to force workers to sign statements accepting their own dismissal. Everywhere we see wages being cut, discretionary changes and extensions being made to working hours, attempts at preventing the use of the legal provisions that support workers with children, unacceptable non-compliance of health and safety regulations in workplaces that put the health and lives of workers at risk.

All these violations and arbitrary decisions are being imposed upon workers on the pretext that the country is under a State of Emergency.

Where are he authorities to enforce the law against those who are using the State of Emergency to act unlawfully ? Or is the State of Emergency being used intentionally as an experimental ground to impose illegal and arbitrary measures on workers and the people?

PCP does not accept that the State of Emergency be used as an excuse to impose the law of the jungle on the lives and rights of workers.

Mr. President of the Parliament,
Mr. Prime-Minister,
Ladies and Gentlemen, Members of the Parliament,

The epidemic outbreak that we presently face has raised a vast number of public health, economic and social issues.

But to address those issues, it is not mandatory to declare a State of Emergency. What is required are political decisions that, regardless of the State of Emergency, make the necessary choices that will allow us to deal with the issues that we face now and will face in the future.

The State of Emergency will now be in the limelight. Let us hope that is does not obfuscate anyone in the search for the solutions that are urgently required.

The situation in Portugal is quite different from that of other countries when it comes to public health, prevention and containment measures against the viral outbreak.

Until now, such measures have been adequately determined by the health authorities and the Government and have been generally complied with by the population, even before the declaration of the State of Emergency. This was acknowledged by public health experts and authorities alike.

Widespread compliance of the public health measures adopted is not a matter for political discussion, it is an evidence confirmed by those who have the responsibility to assess the country’s epidemiological situation. And they acknowledge the positive way in which the epidemiological situation has evolved in Portugal.

For this state of affairs to continue, however, it is important to understand that compliance with public health measures will also depend on the responses found to the issues that Portuguese citizens are confronted with, the more so if the application of such mesaures has to be prolonged in time.

We face countless difficulties. From the loss of jobs and income to the difficulties the elderly face who cannot go out shopping; the need to protect healthcare professionals and officers in the security forces; the need to support the elderly; the need to collect and dispose of waste; to need ensure that goods are distributed and marketed; to need to ensure essential services; the need to protect the mental health of those who may have to be confined in their homes for months; the need to manage the expectations of children and youngsters regarding their school development; the need to mobilize those who may be required to ensure the provision of basic services in society; there are many needs indeed that have to be addressed so that this public health issue does not become an even more momentous social issue.

Addressing those issues is a responsibility we have to take on in the debates that will follow the present discussion.

Thank you.

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