Workers affected by the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to receive assistance from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) next year as a result of the interventions made by Congress in the 2021 national budget.
Senator Sonny Angara, the Chairman of the Committee on Finance, said the members of Congress were all in agreement that the workers affected by the pandemic should continue to receive some form of assistance from the government in 2021 because many of them are still without jobs.
“Marami pa din sa ating mga kababayan ang nahihirapan dahil nawalan sila ng trabaho na dulot ng pandemya. Kaya dinagdagan namin ang pondo ng DOLE para sa Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged or Displaced Workers Program (TUPAD) pati na rin sa Government Internship Program (GIP),” Angara said.
For the TUPAD and GIP, Angara said the budget was increased by close to 100 percent, from P9.93 billion under the National Expenditure Program to P19.036 billion in the final version of the General Appropriations Bill (GAB). TUPAD is a community-based package of assistance that provides emergency employment for displaced workers, underemployed and seasonal workers, for a minimum period of 10 days, but not to exceed a maximum of 30 days, depending on the nature of work to be performed. GIP, on the other hand, aims to provide opportunities and engage young workers to serve the general public in government agencies/entities projects and programs at the national and local level.
The economy is in the early stages of opening up again after months of little to no activity because of the restrictions imposed under the community quarantines.
Unemployment hit a peak of 17.6% in April before improving to 10% in July and to 8.7% in October.
The October unemployment rate is equivalent to 3.8 million Filipinos without jobs or livelihood.
Also receiving an increase in the budget under DOLE is the Adjustment Measures Program (AMP), from P391.61 million under the NEP to P491.62 million in the GAB.
The DOLE-AMP is a nationwide safety net program that provides a package of assistance and other forms of interventions as a means of helping individuals/workers and companies, particularly the distressed, in coping with economic and social disruptions.
It gives priority to enhancing competitiveness and employability of workers and assist companies, particularly the distressed ones, in adopting socially-responsible workforce restructuring policies and positive workforce adjustment measures geared at preventing and/or minimizing job losses.
Other DOLE programs that were provided with budgetary support are the Integrated Livelihood Program, the Special Program for the Employment of Students, job search assistance programs, the child labor elimination program, and the national skills registry system.
To assist the overseas Filipino workers who are in distress or who lost their jobs in the countries where they are deployed and wish to return to the Philippines, Angara said the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration’s emergency repatriation fund was provided with an additional P200 million.