By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang expressed confidence that with the well-known resilience of Filipinos, the Philippines will hurdle the record-high unemployment rate brought about by the prolonged enforcement of quarantine restrictions to stem the tide of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that the number of jobless Filipinos surged to a record-high 17.7 percent in April as quarantine measures displaced millions of workers.
The said figure translates to 7.3 million unemployed Filipinos in the labor force in April 2020.
In a statement on Friday, Roque said the result of the recent survey was not surprising but was still disheartening.
“We are saddened – albeit unsurprised — by the April 2020 unemployment rate released by the Philippine Statistics Authority which registered at 17.7 percent,” he said.
“This is an obvious effect of the economic shutdown when the entire Luzon area was in an enhanced community quarantine where most businesses were closed and many people were out of work and stayed at home,” he added.
Despite this, Roque is confident that Filipinos will be able to overcome the challenges brought about by the worldwide health crisis.
“Our nation is composed of resilient and hardworking people and we will stand united to weather this health crisis, and together, we will heal and recover as one,” he said.
According to the Palace official, the Duterte Administration has implemented various forms of subsidies during the quarantine period to assist affected workers. These include the following the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the following programs of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE):
- COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP)
- Abot-Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) for displaced OFWs (overseas Filipino workers)
- Tulong Panghanapbuhay para sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD)
Roque likewise cited the Financial Subsidy for Rice Farmers (FSRF) by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS) Program by the Department of Finance (DOF).
In addition, Roque said the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is coming up with a comprehensive set of priority policies and strategies for production sectors, which include agriculture and fishery, industry, services and tourism, to enable the economy to recover and transition to the new normal.
“A resiliency program, such as but not limited to active labor market programs, job matching and skills upgrading, is likewise being prepared to help insulate our people from future similar crises,” he added.