Senators ask DOLE for ‘long-term’ employment programs

Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 01 2020 08:06 PM | Updated as of Oct 02 2020 10:08 AM

MANILA — Senators on Thursday urged the Department of Labor and Employment to present "sustainable and long-term" employment programs for workers who were displaced because of the coronavirus pandemic.

During the Senate's hearing of the DOLE's proposed 2021 budget, Sen. Joel Villanueva noted increases in the funds for programs "designed primarily to provide temporary relief to workers [and] emergency employment."

But Villanueva wondered whether the programs ensured sustainable employment for their beneficiaires.

"Parang 'di napondohan nang husto iyong malaking program for employment recovery plan," Villanueva said.

(It seems that the larger programs for employment recovery plan have not been funded well.)

"Importante na hindi business as usual [ang] approach this coming year because of this emergency," he added, referring to the economic crisis triggered by the pandemic.

(It's important to do away with the business-as-usual approach this coming year because of this emergency.)

Sen. Imee Marcos, meanwhile, said it was important for DOLE to put in place a "longer-term job strategy... for at least in the next 3 years to allow the economy to recover."

"We need to have new plans, new programs, ratchet up all those efforts," she said.

In response, Labor Assistant Secretary Dominique Tutay said the DOLE may need to "tweak" their programs, specifically the TUPAD (Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers) program, which provides emergency employment for displaced workers for a brief period of time.

"We have to tweak a bit our TUPAD program such that the beneficiares will be provided with skills training," Tutay said.

Tutay said that TUPAD beneficiaries may undergo training to acquire skills for digital jobs.

"Kung magagamit natin 'yong TUPAD, halimbawa, sa pagpo-provide ng gadget na magiging tulong doon sa individual para siya'y makapag-participate sa isang e-commerce," she said.

(Maybe we can use TUPAD, for example, to provide gadget as a means to help an individual participate in e-commerce.)

The pandemic and its resulting lockdowns have left companies struggling to stay afloat while others have shut down. 

The country also saw a 10-percent unemployment rate in July or about 4.6 million Filipinos left jobless.