Even after the government is able to purchase COVID-19 vaccines, Senator Imelda “Imee” Marcos said millions of Filipinos will remain jobless if no national policy for job recovery would be crafted.
Marcos said that while news of the COVID-19 vaccines is the best Christmas gift ever, the government has yet to disclose how it plans to deal with providing jobs and reviving the country’s economy heavily damaged by the pandemic.
“We have already been warned that the health crisis would end long before economies will recover. Who then is researching and formulating the job recovery vaccine?” said Marcos, chair of the Senate Economic Affairs Committee.
“Millions of Filipinos, now unemployed and bankrupt through no fault of their own, desperately need that jab in the economy’s arm – but no one seems to be in charge,” she added.
Marcos said that the impasse in formulating a policy on job creation surfaced during the recent hearings on the 2021 national budget, when the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) “passed the buck” to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
She noted that the government has been “stuck with short-term, band-aid solutions” to unemployment, such as DOLE’s job fairs and the Tulong Panghanapbuhay Para sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD), COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP), and cash-for-work programs.
“These hardly make a national policy to kick-start job creation,” Marcos pointed out.
Earlier, DOLE has announced that some 21,000 jobs here and abroad are up for grabs this week, as it celebrates its 87th founding anniversary starting Tuesday.
But the senator said that the job vacancies make up less than one percent of the 3.8 million needed for Filipinos who are out of work.
She also said the unemployment number equals 8.7 percent of the 43.6 million workers and jobseekers aged 15 years and above recorded in the Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) third-quarter Labor Force Survey.
Though the latest jobless rate was lower than what was recorded in April, Marcos stressed it “still does not represent the norm.”
“Likewise, in good times and bad times, underemployment in the Philippines remains double digit at 14.4 percent for Q3, compared to 12.8 percent for the same period in 2019,” she noted.
“A before-COVID or BC attitude won’t solve the country’s high unemployment. The government needs to level up from its BC work programs,” the lawmaker reiterated.