To address the rising inflation and joblessness in the country, Albay 2nd district Joey Salceda is floating the idea of a “universal unemployment insurance” for Filipinos who recently lost their jobs.
In a statement on Thursday, July 7, the lawmaker said the Philippines “must eventually shift our social benefits system” from targeted cash transfers to some form of unemployment insurance.
“There are workers who may not necessarily be poor yet (recently unemployed, for example), but are getting there – and our social benefits system is likely not adept enough to catch up to them,” he said.
The unemployment insurance proposal was part of former Vice President Leni Robredo’s economic platform during the 2022 presidential race. Salceda supported her candidacy.
He made this statement as the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that the country’s unemployment rate rose to 6 percent in May from the 5.7 percent in April.
This was, however, lower than the 7.7 percent recorded in the same month last year.
Salceda explained that what’s alarming to him as an economist was that the increase in unemployed persons—770,000–exceeded the number of new members of the labor force, which was at 550,000.
“In other words, not only were we not able to find new jobs for new workers (likely due to the end of academic requirements). We also lost some jobs that already existed in April,” the lawmaker said.
Aside from the unemployment insurance, which in Western countries means getting a portion of the person’s salary for a certain number of months, Salceda says the government must also be “aggressive with job creation” in agriculture and forestry.
Noting the “extreme surplus of labor in the agricultural sector”, the Albay solon stated that some farmers have to face the “difficult truths” that “the best way to improve incomes and job security is to simply move them to better and more secure jobs”.
“As such, the Department of Agriculture (DA) must not operate in a silo of its own mandate, and must work with other government agencies to find jobs for the farmworkers that mechanization and modernization will almost inevitably displace,” he added.
He also proposed to President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Leyte 1st district Rep. Martin Romualdez to pursue the National Broadband Network, especially in isolated areas, so Filipinos can find digital work.
With freelancers accounting for 2.5 million jobs in the country, Salceda said that investments in the infrastructure and environment necessary for this sector to grow “could be as revolutionary and as beneficial to ordinary Filipino families as the rise of the BPO (business process outsourcing) sector was some  years ago.”