Press Release
May 13, 2015

Jinggoy seeks to improve coverage, benefits and access to SPES

Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada wants more underprivileged students and out-of-school youth to take advantage and avail of the benefits of the Special Program for Employment of Students (SPES) as he filed Senate Bill 2759 on Monday to further strengthen the program.

SPES, which is now on 23rd year of implementation, is being updated to expand coverage to include not only "poor but deserving" currently enrolled students but also out-of-school youth and dependents of displaced workers due to business closures or work stoppage intending to enroll in any secondary, tertiary or technical-vocational institutions.

The age ceiling is also increased to thirty years old, compared to the current 15-25 year old bracket.

"With the improvement and expansion of the SPES, it is hoped that this will allow more Filipino youth to pursue their education towards a better future through easy access to the program," Jinggoy said in the bill's explanatory note.

SPES is an innovative "earn and learn" opportunity which allows students to become productive and get hired during their Christmas and summer vacations (for high school students; while those in the tertiary level may be employed at any time of the year), save financial resources for their education, develop proper work ethics and explore prospects for their future career.

The brief employment stint should also be counted as part of the student's probationary period should they apply in the same company after graduation, and should earn them academic credits.

SPES was first enacted on 1992 through Republic Act 7323, and then amended on 2009 through Republic Act 9547, with Sen. Estrada as the principal author and sponsor as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development.

Under this program, students could be employed by government agencies and the private sector wherein they shall receive compensation not lower than the prevailing minimum wage rate.

Existing rules provide that 60% of the salary of employed students will be paid by the employers in cash, while the remaining 40% will be paid by the government in the form of vouchers which can be used to pay for tuition fees, books and other school expenses.

Senate Bill 2759 intends to do away with the state-sponsored vouchers as a mode of payment and instead proposes that the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) pay the same amount in cash directly to the student.

The proposed legislation also entitles student-workers to social protection by virtue of an insurance coverage with the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) for a period of one year.

Since its inception, more than 1.5 million students have already been assisted and have benefited from the program.

Senate Bill 2759 is Estrada's 587th measure filed during the 16th Congress.

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