Labor group asks House to provide more funds for public employment

Published October 13, 2020, 6:04 PM

by Leslie Ann Aquino

The Nagkaisa labor coalition on Tuesday asked the House of Representatives under the new leadership of Speaker Lord Allan Velasco to allocate more funds to public employment if they are serious in addressing the employment crisis.

“The job crisis is real,” Nagkaisa chairperson Sonny Matula said in a statement.

“If the HOR is serious in addressing the employment crisis, it will prioritize jobs recovery through public employment program and set aside sufficient amount of resources to create jobs,” he added.

Nagkaisa said based on estimates, to keep 1.2 million displaced workers employed for at least 3 months in minimum wage jobs through the public employment program, the government must allocate at least P71.4 billion to emergency employment program. 

“The amount the House of Representatives allotted for emergency program is a far cry from this estimate,” said Matula.

According to the group, Malacanang has allocated a sum of 15.582 billion pesos to the DOLE Office of the Secretary for 2021, of which, 11.140 billion pesos are allotted to livelihood and emergency employment. 

“This proposed budget is already up by 3.2 billion pesos compared to its current level. But would this suffice to offset the job losses we incurred because of the crisis?” asked Matula.

He said in the 2020 General Appropriations Act, 7.9 billion pesos out of 12 billion pesos total budget of the DOLE Office of the Secretary are allocated to livelihood and emergency employment. 

“Why would anyone think that the budget for emergency employment program was enough when in the first place, this amount was set when there was still no COVID-19 pandemic and no economic crisis?” said Matula.

“As we all know, the pandemic did not last for two months, which was the original length of time the country was put in lockdown and by the end of which, COVID-19 spread would have been controlled and economic conditions would have returned to normal. On the contrary, after more than two months COVID-19 cases continue to increase, and the job crisis became more apparent,” he added.

“Obviously, a one-time cash transfer and the 10-to-30-day public employment program are not enough to offset job losses from the crisis. Workers need more than what these programs provide,” Matula said.