Press Release
September 28, 2010


After DOLE budget hearing

DRILON: We have asked OWWA to come back on Thursday, 10:30 am in order to provide us with a better briefing on OWWA. From the briefing this morning, it would appear that the OWWA funds are intact. In fact, it's too intact that it's not being used to the extent that it can help our economy. But basically as a fund that the OFWs can look to in terms of benefits. OWWA cash assets amount to P12.6 billion and every year, from contributions and interest earnings, this grows to at least P2 billion more per year. The first obligation of OWWA is to discharge its fiduciary duty to take care of the funds. But we should also be able to utilize the funds to generate economic activity, because these are just funds in the vaults of the banks. Therefore we should be able to think of ways and means by which--like the SSS and GSIS--that the OWWA can be an instrument that can generate economic activity but without violating the fiduciary duty to the workers to take care of these funds.

On the DOLE budget, the discussions centered around the inability of the government to provide reasonable advice to the youth and to the parents and the young children who are about to enter college. There is no job mapping at least until now. The Secretary of Labor conceded that indeed we need a job mapping and she has in fact started it and would have to provide a better information system so that the kids who graduate from high school and that the parents of these kids can have better information as to what jobs are needed by the economy for the next five or 10 years. In many developed countries, job mapping is done in regular course. They can predict what the economy will need in the next five to 10 years. In our case, we have not done that in a regular manner and that is one of the programs that the DOLE is going to do in order to assist in the job generation aspect of our governance.

We will hear the TESDA budget which is part of the DOLE--50% of the DOLE budget is TESDA--on Thursday at 10:30 am.

DOLE SEC. ROSALINDA BALDOZ: The DOLE will do a biennial review of what we have started as a 10-year jobs fit project that identifies key employment generators and skills and occupations required in each of the employment generators. We understand the value of doing this on a regular basis and we have something to start with. We agree with the committee's suggestion that we have to review this every two years. We have also told the committee that under the Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan that NEDA will craft or which the chapter on labor and employment will be spearheaded by the DOLE, we would be able to start already what we could consider as a job and skill mapping because other than the Philjobnet, we will be establishing also our national skills registry. So that is a commitment from the DOLE.

Q: The President has with him around 43,000 jobs from his US state visit. How can this help DOLE?

BALDOZ: We welcome very much the good news that the President brought. We were at the airport to welcome him. It is good news that will really help in the job generation because his goal is to really be able to generate jobs and address poverty that continues to confront us as a big challenge of the administration.

Q: As DOLE Secretary, mararamdaman na ba natin agad yun? Or in how many months or years?

BALDOZ: I heard him say over three years. So the companies will have to come and set up their own businesses. The companies here, what should be made available here are the skills that the companies would meet. That is why we have to prepare the skills registry and also the competencies for each skill. We are working that out with TESDA, CHED and DepEd.

Q: Ano ang mga skills na kakailanganin in the next three years?

BALDOZ: He mentioned of course BPO. For the top 10 local in-demand occupations as of the 2nd quarter of 2010 based on the Phil-jobnet: call center agents, customer service assistants, technical support staff and forklift operators for the skilled workers; also accounting clerks and mechanical engineers continue to be in-demand, sales clerks, drivers, cashiers and production workers.

Q: What took you so long bakit ngayon lang mag job mapping considering na every year problema lagi ang hindi suited ang trabaho sa pinag-aralan?

BALDOZ: May mga attempts na ginawa. Nagkaroon kami ng human resource conference in 2006, and then 2008 and following all the recommendations, we engaged ourselves in these massive consultations with different industries and all the leaders were gathered on a focus discussion type of session. That is what we were able to generate. We finished the project this year and it's now accessible through our website. The result of our jobs fit 2010-2020. That has been disseminated to all schools and universities including LGUs, legislators, Cabinet secretaries and other policy makers.

Q: Yung generation ng local jobs, ito na ba ang nakikitang solusyon sa policy na labor export?

BALDOZ: Yes. The President looks forward that he could really revive the setup infrastructure for the revival of the economy so that we can generate more jobs and there will be a genuine option to our workers on whether to work here or work abroad. He realized that this might not be done overnight, but I think he is really determined to address problems that hindered investments from coming into the country, and through the investments, we can be able to generate jobs and address poverty.

Q: Sa BPO development, hindi ba maapektuhan ang patuloy na paglakas ng piso?

BALDOZ: We have not analyzed that. The BPO investors keep on coming. I think what is forgotten is the quality of the workers that are available in the country. I think that is the number 1 incentive for them. Even with the strengthening of the peso, the Philippines will still be a good investment hub for BPO.

Q: Going through the list you gave, wala na yung nursing. Dun ba tayo magkakaroon ng problema, oversupply of nurses?

BALDOZ: Talagang may oversupply na tayo ng nursing. We've been sending signals that whether locally or overseas, nag decline na ang demand for nurses. The schools and universities continue to produce nursing graduates and I think 45-50% pass the nursing licensure examination. It will not be surprising to have our nurses land in other jobs--not doing the competencies from which they get their license. So ito na yung mismatch na sinasabi natin.

DRILON: One of the areas and aspects that we have asked to DOLE to look into is what we see to the exploitative practices in some countries in Southeast Asia insofar as on-the-job trainings are concerned. We have discovered that in the hotel industry abroad, particularly in Southeast Asia, there are a number of OJTs. Sa katunayan, mangagawa ngunit ang bayad ay kalahati lang sa normal salary. For example, a hotel worker in Singapore should earn about $600. They recruit students in the country, under the guise of OJT, they pay them $300 or half of what is required under Singapore laws. These are very exploitative. Unfortunately this has not passed the DOLE as they go there as tourists with student visas. But they do work, they have recruiters, there are agents. Now they are not given adequate protection. If something happens to them, who would provide them the protection? There are no agencies that would be called upon locally to respond to these needs. This is something we have to expose before it goes out of hand. I have asked the DOLE to give the committee an idea of how many of our students are being recruited as workers under the guise of an OJT and in fact are paid wages way below the minimum because they are supposed to be trainees when in fact, they are not trained and would render actual work.

Q: Are they considered undocumented?

DRILON: No, they are considered as OJTs and students, who would be attracted by a job in Singapore, particularly in the hotel industry. They are hotel management students.

Q: Hindi ba sila naaabsorb?

DRILON: No. They are there for six months and then they come back because they are theoretically OJTs. Kailangan sa kanilang curriculum, but in point of fact, they are being exploited by unscrupulous recruiters in Singapore.

Q: Hindi ba responsible rin dito ang mga schools?

DRILON: Yes. This is the responsibility of the school, and if something happens to them abroad, the schools are liable. They may not realize it, but they can be charged if something happens to these students.

Q: Do we have figures?

DRILON: We have no figures. We just want to know how many. I do not even know if there are available figures but this is a rampant practice in Singapore particularly.

Q: How do we stop it kasi usually pinagmamalaki pa ng schools na meron silang ganung affiliations?

DRILON: I agree. The schools would even be proud of affiliations with the hotels in Singapore, but the truth is they are being required to provide services less than the minimum allowed. We just have to look into this and let's see what kind of remedial regulation can be done in order to address the problem. If something happens to them abroad, no recruiter in the Philippines is held liable.

Q: Is it possible na hindi lang ito limited sa Singapore?

DRILON: It's possible but this is rampant in Singapore. I do not know where else but I have seen it particularly in the hotel industry.

Q: (For OWWA Administrator Carmelita Dimzon) May figure ba tayo dun na napahamak...?

DIMZON: So far wala pa ho. Sabi nga naming kanina during the hearing, they are not members of OWWA because they leave as student-trainees so we don't have records of them too.

Q: Kung may mangyari sa kanila, hindi pwedeng mag extend ng assistance ang OWWA.

DIMZON: Oo kasi they are not registered as members.

DRILON: They are not even workers. They're students. We must come up with a regulation before this becomes a practice which will be taken advantage of by unscrupulous recruiters.

Q: Anong mabibigay nyong warning?

DRILON: We would caution the schools engaged in this kind of a practice because if something happens to these trainees abroad, the schools can be made to answer especially where it is shown that they were negligent in allowing recruiters to recruit the students. The schools should be aware that the students continue to be their responsibility.

Q: (inaudible)

DRILON: Certainly. In fact they are using the OJT program to go around minimum wage and actually it's no longer a job training but they really render service. That's exploitative.

Q: Sec. Baldoz, may latest na ba sa PAL negotiations?

BALDOZ: We have a meeting today; this is the 3rd meeting for the flight attendants and stewardess. May movement naman sa ongoing negotiations ng PAL management at union but of course until and after we have packaged the full settlement, there's no definite item that we can say has been already agreed upon. So what we are working with them is a package settlement for the flight attendants and stewards. For the ground crew, which is the outsourcing case that is left with me under a motion for reconsideration, the PAL union just submitted their last pleading last Friday via registered mail and we learned yesterday that the management will no longer submit any rejoinder. So as of yesterday, the PALEA motion for reconsideration is considered submitted for my decision already.

Q: Pwede bang magkaroon ng takeover if deadlock happens?

BALDOZ: I do not foresee that scenario.

Q: On FASAP case

BALDOZ: No definite solution yet but I continue to have a very high hope for the FASAP case.

Q: Sen. Drilon, is a takeover necessary?

DRILON: Government is never good at doing business so I don't see the possibility of government taking over PAL and we have confidence that the labor dispute can be resolved by the DOLE without going through such drastic action.

Q: Ipatatawag ang CHED para sa OJT issue?

DRILON: The CHED is under the committee of Sen. Angara.

Q: More than enough and more than what was expected ba ang investments na dala ng Presidente?

DRILON: This is a show of confidence, a manifestation of confidence in our President by the foreign investors. These investors look at the business condition, they don't mind the noise created by politicians. The politicians can make all the noise, but if they (investors) can make money, they'll come. This is what is important, that we create an environment conducive to investment. All they need is consistency in the application of the law, a level playing field so that they are assured of their investment.

Q: Sir member kayo ng frat diba? Any comment on bar exam incident?

DRILON: We condemn in the strongest possible terms this incident. It has no place in a civilized society

Q: Dapat na bang itigil ang 'salubong'?

DRILON: You cannot prohibit everything. You have to have a better control of the crowd.

Q: What is your frat sir?

DRILON: Sigma Rho

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