By FRED M. LOBO
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) has announced that the unemployment rate climbed to 17.7 percent in April this year, rendering some 7.3 million Filipinos jobless.
Pandemic killed people and jobs. Government and the private sector have to jointly work double- time to bring us back to normalcy.
Government authorities vowed to normalize transportation in Metro Manila within this month while the business sector moved to reopen essential businesses to recover losses and provide jobs.
Help bring back businesses and employment, the business and labor sectors appealed.
“This is a record high in the unemployment rate reflecting the effects of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) economic shutdown to the Philippine labor market,” National Statistician Claire Dennis S. Mapa said.
April unemployment rate significantly jump from only 5.1 percent in the same month last year and 5.3 percent last January, he added..
The PSA official pointed out that labor force participation rate among Filipinos 15-years and older declined to an estimated 55.6 percent in April, the lowest in the history of Philippine labor market.
Young workers greatly affected , Mapa said.
The PSA added that all regions reported double-digit unemployment rates during the month, with the highest unemployment rate occurring in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region ( 29.8 percent}, followed by Region III (27.3 percent), Cordillera Administrative Region (25.3 percent), and Metro Manila, at 12.3 percent.
Calling economic managers! Joblessness disheartening. Poverty and hunger lurking…
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said more routes have been opened for more than 200 point-to-point (P2P) buses to ferry more commuters as Metro Manila and nearby provinces this second week of a more relaxed lockdown.
Transport reopening is calibrated to prevent spread of Covid-19 virus, it said.
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) added that a total of 268 buses will be deployed in the National Capital Region (NCR) and nearby areas..
28 new routes will be opened, ,too , to serve more areas, including Bulacan, and Calamba, Laguna, it announced.
Transport officials explained that P2P buses have been issued special permits as part of the control measures under the general community quarantine.
Abide by health and safety protocols to the ensure safety of passengers and bus personnel, they ordered.
DOTr Sec. Arthur Tugade reminded operators and drivers to strictly observe preventive measures such as the mandatory wearing of face masks and gloves, aside from the thorough and regular disinfecting of the buses and bus terminals.
“Mask is a must as Pres. Duterte has ordered,” he reiterated.
“Passenger load for the P2P buses should also not exceed 50 percent or half of the vehicle’s capacity to observe physical distancing… with a navigation system for monitoring of movement, automatic fare collection system , among others,” the LTFRB ordered.
Physical distancing strictly enforced, it said.
The LTFRB added that tricycles and motorcycles were also allowed to operate but subject to prior approval and supervision of the local government unit (LGUs).
Solo passenger only and no “angkas” allowed., it stressed.
The LTFRB assured it plans to open the entire 31 rationalized routes for city buses by June 19 to ease the public transportation shortage under the GCQ.
“We are meeting a target , we are looking forward to opening all 31 rationalized city bus routes by June 19,” LTFRB Chairman Martin Delgra III said.
Transport officials added all public utility buses, modern jeepneys, and UV Express will hopefully be allowed on the road during Phase 2, to run from June 22 to June 30, under the DOTr “calibrated, partial, and in phases” approach.
Yes to more safe transport for commuters, workers and businessmen under the “new normal”.