Press Release
November 26, 2013

Cash-for-work pushed in a region that had 2 M jobless,
underemployed prior to 'Yolanda'

Government should start rolling out a cash-for-work program in Yolanda-devastated areas in order to "clear and clean" communities of debris and employ those whose jobs or livelihood were also destroyed by the typhoon.

"Disaster areas need a different kind of emergency - emergency employment," said Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto in proposing that typhoon victims be temporarily employed so they can rebuild their own communities themselves.

"Relief shouldn't only come in grocery bags," Recto said, "but must also be in the opportunity to be employed. If you want victims to stop displaying 'We need food' placards, then hang 'Help wanted' signs."

He said Yolanda merely aggravated a bleak unemployment picture in the areas it devastated. "Before Yolanda struck, the three regions of Visayas were home to 2.1 million unemployed and underemployed. One in three in the labor force was without a job or underemployed."

In batting for cash-for-work, Recto said government will not find a more determined volunteer force to do post-typhoon clean-up than in the victims themselves. "The victims' sweat equity matched with government pay, that's the best reconstruction material."

Recto said "mass employment" can be found in next year's national budget. "With its huge P2.4 trillion footprint, it is a big job order document."

In infrastructure alone, close to P400 billion has been earmarked, Recto said. This would finance the construction of P137.7 billion worth of roads, not including the P12 billion worth of farm-to-market roads that the Department of Agriculture will build.

For schools, 43,183 classrooms will be built while 9,502 will be repaired.

In agriculture, some P53 billion will be allocated, the senator said. On irrigation alone, construction will cover 86,019 hectares of farmland.

He said the DA will be holding "a year-round job fair" because it will be given money, not only for farm infrastructure, but for "labor intensive activities like rice and corn planting, and coconut production for which it will be given P2 billion."

Because 'Yolanda' barreled through agriculture areas, DA will have to assume the role of a job provider, Recto said. "In the case of fishermen, relief is about giving them cans of sardines. Rehabilitation is empowering them to fish again."

But for the above capital expenditures to generate local jobs, Recto said Congress can insert provisions in the national budget that will require the recruitment of local labor.

"For example, there's actually a law, Republic Act 6685, which requires the contractor of a government public works project to hire one-half of the unskilled labor and one-third of the skilled labor requirements from among the residents where it will be implemented," he said.

Another option is for Congress to appropriate specific cash-for-work initiatives, Recto said.

He said the funding for cash-for-work for December will have to come from savings from the 2013 national budget.

"For next year, it will be a combination of specific cash-for-work programs on top of job-generating infra projects," he said.

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