Open-close lockdowns close opportunities for first-time job seekers: Pangilinan

A NEW generation of fresh graduates is having a hard time entering the labor force as the unemployment rate jumped up in August due to quarantine restrictions, said Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan Friday.

“Yung close-open na lockdown, nag-c-close ng oportunidad sa mga gustong maghanapbuhay. Marami na ang nawalan ng trabaho dahil dito, tapos ngayon may mga bagong graduate na maghahanap din ng trabaho,” said Pangilinan.

The senator, who has exposed irregularities in the Senate hearings on Covid expenditures, said an appropriate, efficient, corrupt-free Covid response is key to a promising life for all Filipinos, including new graduates.

“Maayos at hindi corrupt na Covid response ang susi sa magandang buhay sa lahat ng mga Pilipino, lalo na sa mga new graduates,” Pangilinan said.

As of August 2021, the unemployment rate swelled to 8.1%, equivalent to 3.88 million jobless Filipinos. Lockdowns are directly proportional to job loss.

In a Palace briefing Thursday, National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Karl Chua said that job creation has been dependent on quarantine restrictions.

Lockdowns temporarily stopped jobs while gradual easing resumed employment generation.

Data from NEDA shows that 69% of the country’s economy remained under general community quarantine (GCQ) with heightened restrictions of alert level 4 in Metro Manila.

This translated to 23.3 million workers affected by work disruptions.

“Tuwing ang Metro Manila ay sumasailalim sa lockdown, marami ang pansamantalang nawawalan ng trabaho. Hindi sapat ang lockdown kung walang kasabay na testing, contact tracing, isolation at vaccination (Every time Metro Manila is placed under lockdown, many are forced to temporarily lose their jobs. Lockdowns without testing, contact tracing, isolation, and vaccination are not enough),” said Pangilinan.

“Kahit hindi pa pandemya ay mahirap na maghanap ng trabaho kapag ikaw ay fresh graduate. Mas lalo na ngayon na mataas ang unemployment rate. This is a leadership issue. Kapag natugunan ng liderato ang Covid ay magbubukas ulit ang mga negosyo at mga trabaho (Even before the pandemic, fresh graduates were already having a hard time finding jobs — more so now that the unemployment rate is high. This is a leadership issue.

If the leadership is able to address Covid, businesses will resume and generate jobs),” he added.

According to NEDA’s Chua, the cost of Covid and quarantine both to the present and the future — meaning today’s children and their grandchildren — will reach P41.4 trillion.

He estimated that the Philippine economy would take more than 10 years to return to pre-pandemic growth, warning that the next two generations of Filipinos would be paying for the cost of Covid-19.

As of September 30, the Philippines has logged over 2.5 million total Covid cases with 138,294 active cases and 38,294 deaths.

Pangilinan said it is unfortunate that young Filipinos would have to bear the brunt of the effects of a poor Covid response.

“Hindi pa nga nakakapagtrabaho, may mga utang na. Kailangan natin bigyan ng mahusay na aksyong medikal ang kasalukuyan para ang ating mga graduates ay makapagtrabaho at makatulong sa kanilang pamilya (Our young people already have debts even before having jobs. We need efficient medical interventions now so that our graduates may find jobs and help their families),” he said.