Unemployment woes hound Boracay workers

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 18 2018 05:12 AM | Updated as of Apr 18 2018 05:50 AM

BORACAY - With just nine days left before the closure of the country’s top tourist destination, there appears to be no clear and detailed plan from the government on how to cushion the blow of its closure to the island’s workers.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to shut down Boracay for six months starting April 26 to give way to its rehabilitation has worried the island’s more than 30,000 workers, about a third of which belonged to the informal sector.

These concerns, however, were not allayed after the Department of Labor and Employment’s regional office disclosed Tuesday that it was still in the process of “profiling” the island’s employees.

“As to DOLE, their guidelines are not clear. They also offer continuing education to displaced workers, but have they discussed what will happen to the families of those who will lose their jobs?” said Nenette Graf, president of business group Boracay Foundation Inc. in a chance interview at a stakeholders meeting.

“We want to hear more. They are still in the profiling stage. I hope they would present a more complete plan. We believe it is not enough. We have nine days left. Did they really prepare for this?”

Interior Assistant Secretary Epimaco Densing admitted the process of validating the island’s workers’ profiles was taking time, but he said this was a necessary step to ensure that help will only reach those who deserve it.

“While I do agree that the profiling… is a bit slow, we’re trying to fast track the profiling right now. What is important to us right now, is once these people are already identified, immediate work can be given,” Densing said in a press briefing.

“After the profiling has been done, after we have identified what type of work will be given to them, then we start hiring them and give them the job orders or the minimum wage for these cash or emergency job program.”

The government is allotting a P2.3 billion calamity fund for Boracay, a large portion of which will be used for the assistance of displaced workers.

Densing said this fund is more than enough to provide at least the region’s minimum daily wage of P323.5 to some 20,000 of the more than 30,000 employees in the island.

Business groups, however, doubt whether the government can provide suitable jobs to those who belong to the hospitality industry, as the job vacancies announced thus far involve construction work.