ECQ cometh: DOLE needs P2B to sustain 'ayuda' program for formal sector workers

Published August 3, 2021, 5:59 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will ask the national government for an additional budget of P2 billion in order to sustain its one-time cash assistance program for workers who have been affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III (Screengrab from Zoom meeting)

Thus, bared DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III in a statement on Tuesday, Aug. 3, even as he expects the impending reimposition of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the National Capital Region (NCR) to have an adverse impact on the employment situation.

“The imposition of [ECQ] in NCR this August [6 to 20] will surely affect successive survey rounds,” he said, referring to monthly Labor Force Survey (LFS).

“But with government agencies collaborating and with people following quarantine measures and protocols, we are hoping to mitigate its adverse impact in our labor market and the economy,” Bello said.

“Targeted assistance to workers is being finalized by a Small Working Group on Social Amelioration (SWG-SAP), while the proposed wage subsidy being pushed by the National Employment Recovery Strategy (NERS) Task Force is awaiting green light from our economic managers. In the meantime, the DOLE shall request for [a] P2 billion budget augmentation for the COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) for formal sector workers who will be affected by the ECQ. These will be implemented once approved,” the labor chief revealed.

Through CAMP, the labor department has been able to provide a one-time cash assistance or “ayuda” of P5,000 to various types of workers amid the persisting public health crisis. These include displaced overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and tourism industry employees, just to name a couple.

“These are on top of the regular programs of the government, particularly the NERS Task Force, on supporting businesses through available incentives, providing platform for jobseekers to facilitate their access to employment, and supporting our workers through upskilling and retooling initiatives,” Bello noted.

The results of the June 2021 LFS reportedly showed a 34,000 increase in unemployed persons and a 917,000 increase in underemployed persons. Bello described these as “reminders that much still has to be done”.

The number of unemployed Filipinos jumped from 3.73 million in May to 3.76 million in June, the latest figures showed.

“[DOLE] is working vigorously with the NERS Task Force and will continue to be active in working with various government agencies and support initiatives such as the Task Group on Economic Recovery (TGER) towards sustained improvement in our labor market,” Bello said.