‘Dapat all makabangon’: Hontiveros pushes for public employment program, income support for displaced workers anew amid continuing layoffs
MANILA – Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday reiterated her call for the immediate roll out of public employment programs (PEP) as well as income support for displaced workers in the face of continuing mass layoffs reported by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) at the start of 2021.
“Nakakalungkot na sa pagpasok ng 2021 ay mass layoff pa rin ang ating nakikita sa halip na unti-unting pagdami ng trabaho mula sa dahan-dahan na pagbubukas ng ekonomiya at kasabay ng isang magandang balita sa pagkakaroon ng bakuna. Ipinapakita lamang nito na bukod sa bakuna sa COVID-19, kailangan din ng sariling bakuna ang ekonomiya ng bansa,” said Hontiveros in reaction to the recent jobs report of DOLE.
“Kung ang hangarin natin ay totoong pag-unlad, dapat all kasama sa pag-angat. Dapat mabigyan ng hanapbuhay at tulungang makabangon ang mga dapang-dapa na sa matataas na presyo ng bilihin at kawalan ng income,” she added.
DOLE reported an additional 25,226 workers who lost their jobs in January due to permanent closure and reduction of employees in small companies. This is on top of more than 200,000 job losses reported during the last quarter of 2020. Aside from job loss, at least 108,089 workers suffered non-payment and wage cuts as firms continue to suffer from financial distress due to the pandemic.
“Katumbas ito ng halos isang libong manggagawa na nawawalan ng trabaho kada araw at ang malungkot dito, marami pa rin ang manggagawang nasa floating status at ang iba naman ay iniklian ang araw ng trabaho o kaya ay binabaan ang sweldo. Sa ganitong kalagayan, ang una nilang maiisip ay hindi pa kung ano ang mas mabisang brand ng bakuna kundi kung saan kukuha ng panggastos sa araw-araw,” the Senator said.
In the face of the persisting unemployment problem, Senator Hontiveros is proposing that the planned food and employment summits should be set along the common objective of generating the ‘bakuna para sa ekonomiya’ so that the ongoing health crisis is not further compounded by income loss and scarcity of jobs. For this purpose, Hontiveros reiterated her proposal for the government to create employment through PEPs and income support for displaced workers in the MSMEs and other key sectors of the economy.
The senator also emphasized the need to expand the current emergency employment program under Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged / Displaced Workers (TUPAD) to accommodate more beneficiaries who can work on government projects as well as the allowable number of days of work to boost their income. Apart from this type of employment, Hontiveros also explained that the government can hire more workers to augment public services in the health sector, environment, food security, and building climate-resilient communities.
Hontiveros also proposed the adoption of service-contracting for public utility vehicles (PUVs) to allow displaced PUV drivers and operators to run on company-contracted service vehicles for their employees, which according to the Senator is a ‘good way’ of ensuring the safety of workers.
Hontiveros added that as long as there is scarcity of jobs, household consumption cannot return back to the pre-pandemic level and recovery may take longer than expected or may not take place at all.
“Habang ang ekonomiya at sikmura ng mga manggagawang Piliino ay walang laman, hindi rin matatapos ang hirap at pangamba. Nakatuntong ang ating ekonomiya sa isang masiglang sektor ng paggawa. Sila ang bumubuhay, hindi lang sa bawat pamilyang Pilipino, kundi sa buong ekonomiya. Huwag na nating hintaying mahuli pa ang lahat bago tayo kumilos. The government must act swiftly to save lives by saving jobs,” Hontiveros concluded. ###