Unemployment insurance bill gains support from VP

Vice President Leni Robredo on Monday backed the passage into law of the Unemployment Insurance Bill that will create an unemployment insurance system to protect Filipinos who have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Vice President Leni Robredo

In a video message uploaded on her official Facebook page, Robredo said she supports House Bill 7028, which is authored by Marikina Representative Stella Quimbo.

“The effects of this pandemic is clear. Many businesses were forced to shut their doors, and many were forced to lose their jobs,” Robredo said.

A recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed the rise in the country’s unemployment rate to 45.5 percent, with 27.3 million Filipinos out of work in July due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the proposed program, employees who were displaced will receive unemployment benefits for at least three months.

This will provide “even partial income for the newly unemployed, and extend counseling, re-training, and job matching for them,” she said.

She cited a report from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) that said more than half of the country’s micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) closed down because of the pandemic.

Robredo said this should push the government to provide funds for wage subsidies that will enable MSMEs to keep their employees.

“We should also strengthen LGUs so they can support small businesses—establish credit mitigation services, to guide them in finding loans, in creating business plans, and in managing their finances to prevent them from closing up shop,” she added.

Furthermore, Robredo batted for MSMEs to have an online presence.

The lady official said that most small and community-based businesses will have a hard time setting up digital payment systems since even the opening of bank accounts is difficult for them.

She added, “assistance should be provided so as many people as possible sign up for digital modes of payment.”

“If we can accomplish these things, we can maintain the flow of our economy while protecting buyers and consumers from the threat of COVID-19.”

But to do these things, Robredo said that the Bayanihan 2 budget is not enough. She lamented that the country is still dependent on a pre-COVID budget even while the challenges have changed.

“Only the government can extend a lifeline to the economy; only government has the resources and machinery to do things at a significant enough scale. The government must spend more, spend efficiently, and spend quickly, with the utmost sense of urgency, as if our economic survival depends on it—because it does,”  she stressed.