TUCP urges for massive job generation to ease the COVID-19 triggered unemployment and poverty

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) urges for massive job generation to be included in the President’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 27, 2020,  to ease the COVID-19 triggered unemployment and poverty citing the President’s legacy projects, particularly in the P35.91 billion 102-km Mindanao Railway Project (MRP), Tagum-Davao-Digos segment as having great potential for employment and development.

“The Mindanao Railway Project of the President, although a single-track diesel-run railway, has great potential to generate the much-needed jobs.  It will benefit not just the workers in Tagum-Davao-Digos areas but from as far as BARMM, Regions X, XII and CARAGA if agri-industrial hubs will be developed and connected to the planned eight (8) stations which are in Tagum; Carmen; Panabo; Mundiang; Davao Terminal; Toril; Sta Cruz; and Digos,” TUCP Partylist and TUCP President Raymond Democrito C. Mendoza pointed out.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) had earlier reported that the MRP’s Tagum-Davao-Digos segment’s design and construction will start in third quarter of this year and are expected to be completed by end of 2021, “We do not need to reinvent the wheel or embark on new grand plans to create jobs, we just have to ensure that the ‘Build, Build, Build’ and the legacy projects of the President would be for the development and industrialization in the countryside to spur employment, and not just mere rail tracks, widened and asphalted roads,” Mendoza explained.

“The President’s SONA should direct the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), DOLE, DOTr and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to ensure job creation,” he suggested.

The TUCP earlier projected 5 million to 10 million unemployed workers due to the pandemic, and 3 to 4 million in floating status under a “no work, no pay” arrangement, while the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported a 17.7 percent unemployment rate which accounts for 7.3 million unemployed in the workforce in the second quarter of 2020, nearly a four-time increase from the 5.1 percent unemployment rate in the same quarter of 2019.

The PSA also reported double-digit unemployment rates in all regions, the highest was in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) at 29.8 percent.

The rest of the regions in Mindanao island: Region IX registered an unemployment rate of 23.9 percent, Region X at 11.1 percent, Region XI at 17.9 percent, Region XII at 21.2 percent and CARAGA at 12.3 percent.

The SWS survey conducted in May 2020 noted that eighty-three percent of Filipinos believe that their quality of life has worsened in the last 12 months.

The survey has 294 respondents from Metro Manila, 1,645 from Balance Luzon, 792 from Visayas, and 1,279 from Mindanao.

While a separate SWS survey in the same period showed that 16.7 percent or an estimated 4.2 million Filipino families experienced involuntary hunger at least once for the past three months.

“We reiterate our call to the Government on the urgency to respond to the magnitude of the displacement of workers. Indeed, some companies are operating but it will get worse before it will get better. Companies are operating in half capacities to finish the pre-pandemic job orders and there are no new orders coming in as the economies of our markets abroad are in recession. Closures will come in the fourth quarter of the year with no assurance of rebound in 2021. There is no assurance of foreign remittance as our OFWs are coming home and those who stayed overseas have no jobs while our seafarers have become quarantine costly and unable to board the ships on time due to bottlenecks in the green lanes. It should not be ‘business-as-usual’ mode, we need to have a massive job creation program or a Philippine Agri-Industrial Development Program to stimulate the economy, and not rely on labor export or foreign investments,” TUCP Vice President Luis Corral said.

He also pointed out that this is President Duterte’s golden opportunity to “BUILD BACK BETTER” using the country’s “AAA-minus credit rating” to fund a multi-trillion-peso economic stimulus package so that the credit rating is felt by the Filipino people.