Bill waiving fees for first-time jobseekers awaits Duterte’s signature

By Vanne Elaine Terrazola

The bill seeking to waive government fees and charges on documents needed by first-time jobseekers is now awaiting President Duterte’s signature.

Jobseekers queue at the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)'s Labor Day job fair in Manila. (ALI VICOY / MANILA BULLETIN)
Jobseekers queue at the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)’s Labor Day job fair in Manila.

Congress has transmitted to the Palace the final copy of the proposed First-Time Jobseekers Assistance Act, which would exempt fresh graduates from paying fees for pre-employment documents.

The measure was ratified in both houses last February.

The enrolled bill, which reconciled the Senate Bill No. 1629 and House Bill No. 172, proposes to mandate concerned government agencies to waive the fees of first-time jobseekers who are securing pre-employment documents.

These include clearances issued by police and the National Bureau of Investigation; medical certificates from government clinics and hospital; as well as birth and/or marriage certificates, tax identification number, and Unified Multi-Purpose ID card (UMID).

The exemption can be availed only once by the first-time jobseekers. Applicants will be asked to submit a barangay clearance to prove that they are a first-time jobseeker.

Under the bill, the Public Employment Service Office (PESO) in the different provinces, municipalities and cities shall assist the first-time job seekers in securing the required documents for application.

The bill also pushes the creation of an inter-agency monitoring committee to monitor the compliance of the concerned government agencies granting the waiver of fees and charges. Failure to comply could result in the filing of administrative charges.

Senator Joel Villanueva, chair of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development, said he is hopeful that President Duterte will sign the bill, noting it would benefit some 1.3 million first-time jobseekers annually.

He said the speedy release of employment documents to fresh graduates would also encourage employers to hire Filipinos over illegal alien workers. The country’s economy will also benefit as it would help in addressing unemployment, he added.

“We are hopeful that the President will be supportive of our bill that will greatly benefit our young individuals as they enter our country’s workforce,” Villanueva, who sponsored the measure in Senate, said in a statement.