Alarmed over the spike in the country’s unemployment figures, Senator Sonny Angara called on the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to come up with programs targeted at all the industries and individuals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the hearing on the 2022 budget of the DOLE, Angara commended the agency on its various programs to assist various sectors in coping with the pandemic such as the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD), Special Program for the Employment of Students (SPES) and the COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP).
While saying that these services provided by DOLE are valuable during these challenging times, Angara said every effort should be extended to ensure that no Filipino who needs help is left behind.
“Malayo pa sa 2019 levels ang recovery ng ating mga local industries tulad ng tourism, transportation and the associated industries. We should come up with special programs that are targeted towards the heavily affected industries,” Angara said.
“It’s a well established fact that COVID has exacerbated or made inequality worse. We’re adding to the ranks of poor people if we do not develop programs on the fly,” he added.
The Chairman of the Committee on Finance took note of the alarming employment data, particularly the 8.1 percent unemployment rate in August 2021 as reported by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
Based on the PSA report, the 8.1 percent is equivalent to around 3.88 million jobless Filipinos and is higher than the 6.9 percent recorded in July 2021.
In a briefing before the Senate last week, the Department of Trade and Industry has also indicated that over 830,000 Filipinos lost their jobs last year.
“The latest employment figures are quite disturbing. We haven’t reached such levels in 15 years. Underemployment was at 20 percent in July and is down to 14 percent in August. We must have strategies to address this,” Angara said.
Angara said DOLE should have a feedback mechanism to know precisely who lost their jobs during the pandemic, where they are situated and which sector they belong to.
“The role of the DOLE is to pinpoint who have been affected. DOLE has the institutional capacity to know where they are. So it is very important that we have an information mechanism for this,” Angara said.
“It looks very difficult for these industries moving forward. Sana mabigyan ng special attention lahat within the very worthy programs of DOLE like TUPAD and CAMP. At least para makatawid man lang sila because I don’t think these people will be included within the rolls of CCT beneficiaries for instance,” Angara added.
DOLE has sought for additional funding for TUPAD and CAMP in order to cover all affected workers in the formal and informal sectors and even the overseas Filipino workers.
The agency also has a National Employment Recovery Strategy to help displaced workers in the tourism and other related sectors to transition to other industries where there demand for jobs is higher.