Press Release
May 25, 2015

Senate oks bill to expand gov't employment offices to rural areas

In a bid to reduce unemployment in the country, the Senate approved a bill on third and final reading which seeks to expand the government's Public Employment Service Offices (PESO) especially in the rural areas.

Senator Sonny Angara, acting chairman of the Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources, said Senate Bill No. 1386, sought to amend Republic Act 8759 or the Public Employment Service Act of 1999, and ensure their continued operation and sustainability with the support of the Local Government Units (LGUs) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Angara said the PESO law was enacted to create PESOs across strategic areas in the country to serve as a venue for Filipinos to explore employment opportunities and other labor market information. It also provides for training activities, certification tests, career guidance and job referral services.

"The policies that govern our PESOs must be fine-tuned and improved - the very objective of the measure as originally pushed and authored by Senator Jinggoy Estrada," Angara said.

To date, he said, there were PESOs in 75 provinces, 142 cities and 1,374 municipalities. Memoranda of agreements had also been signed with 247 public and private universities and colleges and 49 non-government organizations, including government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs).

Angara said PESOs may be credited for up to 4.45 million job placements between 2010 and 2013, indicating how the offices were instrumental in minimizing unemployment and underemployment in the country.

"Unemployment and underemployment are perhaps the most debilitating scourges our country faces today," Angara said, as he cited a 2014 Labor Force Survey which showed that around 2.9 million Filipinos were unemployed while seven million were underemployed.

The same survey also showed that 62 percent or 1.8 million of the unemployed Filipinos had high school diploma, a post-secondary certificate or a bachelor's degree.

"Ironically, even our graduates are hounded by joblessness. According to studies, it can take 18 months to two years before new college graduates can land a job," Angara said.

He said stronger PESO policies could help solve the problem. He said the proposed measure would mandate the PESOs to establish a labor market information structure at the grassroots level for more efficient and effective employment services.

He said the measure will also "institutionalize PESO plantilla positions to assure the sustainability and effectiveness of the initiatives pursued by the office."

"We aim for PESOs to be operated out of LGU allocations. Currently, PESO operations are lodged under the PESO program of the DOLE, which for years, have remained largely unfunded," Angara explained.

Under the measure, he said, DOLE would continue to provide technical supervision, coordination and capacity building, among other things.

"Despite a strong economy, many of our poor brothers and sisters are still being left behind because of a jobs-skills mismatch. This measure will see to it that everyone will be given a chance to seek employment," Angara said. (Yvonne Almirañez)

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