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MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will roll out one million jobs and a wage subsidy program as part of its P25-billion post-coronavirus recovery plan.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III announced this on Thursday, April 30, in a virtual briefing ahead of the Labor Day celebration on Friday, May 1.
Bello said the jobs will be available in the provinces in the coming months, and hinged on the Balik Probinsiya program proposed by Senator Bong Go during a Malacañang briefing.
The wage subsidy program, meanwhile, will be for workers of micro and small enterprises for 3 months, including those in the gig economy and members of the media, Bello said.
Bello added that DOLE’s Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers program will be enhanced in the next 3 months to employ the “returnees,” as well as those in barangay local governments.
Bello said, however, that the complete details of the program have yet to be finalized. The guidelines will be issued by DOLE together with the Department of Trade and Industry.
In a statement sent after the briefing, DOLE said they will be hiring 5,000 new graduates and new board-passer nurses to implement the government’s occupational safety and health program in workplaces and the promotion of coronavirus prevention measures in rural communities.
They will be assisted by 15,000 returning overseas Filipino workers who will be recruited by the department and will be trained by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.
The post-coronavirus recovery plan is the “brainchild” of Acting Undersecretary Benjo Benavidez and former labor chief Marianito Roque, who served DOLE during the Arroyo administration. Roque returned to DOLE as Bello’s consultant.
Roque explained that there will be at least two phases focusing on the restoration of employment and then job creation.
“The focus of the recovery program is restoration of employment [first] before the [job] creation. We have to bring back to work those who were affected by the ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) because they cannot return to work. So we have to look at the occupational safety and health after they can go back to work,” Roque said.
The labor chief-turned-consultant said DOLE will be working with other agencies for the job creation phase.
He mentioned the public works and education departments as among those with existing programs and projects which could accommodate those who have lost their jobs during the pandemic.
Roque also said DOLE can tap economic zones and local governments for job creation.
“Other than that, we will have to wait for new funding for new projects, businesses, and new support that can be done like barangay-based livelihood and employment opportunities for the short term,” he said.
DOLE said on Thursday that at least 2.3 million Filipinos have either lost their jobs or are under a “No Work, No Pay” scheme in 87,301 establishments nationwide.
As of Sunday, April 26, 345,865 private sector workers in the Philippines have received the P5,000 subsidy from DOLE, while 259,449 informal sector workers benefited from the cash-for-work program of the government. DOLE has since stopped accepting applications for the cash subsidy program. – Rappler.com