In a bid to make government services more accessible for underprivileged Filipinos, Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte initiated partnerships with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), so her office can extend free job placement and legal assistance.
The Vice President witnessed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the OVP as signed by Undersecretary Zuleika Lopez with DOLE and PAO at the Office of the Vice President’s (OVP) central office in Mandaluyong City on Wednesday, Nov. 16.
She said they specifically looked for government agencies they could partner with to address the most pressing concerns of Filipinos who reach out to the OVP for help.
“Nakatutok kami sa (We are focused on) peace and entrepreneurship. Nakita namin sa mga lumalapit dito sa opisina namin (We noticed that those who go here) and mga (in our) satellite offices namin iba-iba ‘yung (they have different) concerns nila na hindi naka-align doon sa (that are not aligned with the) priority areas ng (of the) OVP,” she shared, adding that most of the concerns were legal in nature.
Duterte told the media that many of the problems that beset those who reach out to the OVP need to be referred to different national government offices.
Asked if there would be future agreements similar to the ones signed with DOLE and PAO, she answered that her office continuously studies the issues raised by those visiting their offices.
“We continually assess kung ano ‘yun mga (what their) concerns na nilalapit sa amin at ano ‘yung mga problema ng mga tao. Ano iyong (that they consult with us. What is the) profile ng tao at problema nila na mga dinadala nila sa amin (of the person and the problems that they bring to us) both through in person, ‘yung pumupunta sa (those who go to the) office o sumusulat, nagpapadala ng (or send a letter or send an) email,” she explained.
“Naghahanap kami ng (We look for) partnership with other offices,” the Vice President added.
Labor Undersecretary Felipe Egargo Jr., who signed the MOU on behalf of DOLE and as witnessed by Labor Assistant Secretary Lennard Serrano, said that the OVP initiative would be implemented through DOLE’s Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) program, a community-based assistance package that provides emergency employment for displaced workers.
“Sila (OVP) ang magbibigay ng (They will provide the list of the) beneficiary sa iba-ibang rehiyon ng ating bansa. Kami naman po ang magbibigay ng pasahod sa ma-e-employ na mga (from different regions of our country. We will be the one to provide the wage for the employed) workers,” he said.
Egargo reported that DOLE is ready to implement the programs in all regions of the country.
Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Public Attorney Ana Lisa Soriano also signed the agreement, which was witnessed by PAO Chief Dr. Persida Rueda-Acosta.
Acosta took on the challenge of helping the OVP reach more Filipinos who need legal aid, noting the PAO could assign at least two lawyers for each of its satellite office nationwide.
However, PAO would still need to assess the needs of each satellite office to properly assign the lawyers.
The PAO is composed of 2,500 public attorneys and 1,000 staff, she said.
“Ang ating inaasahan ay lalong maabot ng mahihirap sa mga dalampasigan, kabundukan, at mga baybayin ang mga (We are expecting to extend to the poor from the coastal areas, mountain areas, and nearby areas) legal aid, o pagpunta ng korte, paghingi ng hustisya (or going to the courts, asking for justice),” Acosta said.