Press Release
June 8, 2020

Villanueva: Economic recovery plan must prioritize plight of workers

The welfare of workers should be among the top priorities in creating a recovery plan for the country, according to Senator Joel Villanueva.

Villanueva, chair of the Senate labor committee, lamented that in the past few months, workers' welfare was glossed over as seen in the different policies and programs implemented by the government.

"Tingi-tingi ang binigay na pondo sa Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) para sa mga programa nito. Talo ang manggagawa. Binuksan po natin ang ekonomiya simula noong Hunyo nang walang sapat na transportasyon. Talo ulit ang mga manggagawa. Sa kritikal na panahon ngayon, ang takbuhan po ng ating manggagawa ay ang gobyerno, ngunit napabayaan po ata natin sila," Villanueva said in a statement.

"The tough economic climate is already punishing workers with layoffs left and right. How do we expect our people to provide for their families if they are jobless? Our government cannot simply look away from their plight, and keep on overlooking their condition," he added. "We urge our policymakers to consider the welfare of workers as they draw up the economic recovery plan of our country. After all, it is our workers who will fuel the engines of our economy."

He pointed out that while government assistance to businesses was also necessary, it must be hinged on their commitment to keep workers in their ranks.

Despite the implementation of various emergency employment programs, a significant portion of workers were still not able to receive any form of assistance from the government, according to the lawmaker.

Only about 657,000 workers in the formal sector of the 2.6 million workers reported to DOLE received government assistance through the agency's COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program, which gives a one-time cash assistance of P5,000 per individual.

Some 330,000 workers in the informal sector, which is estimated to be over 30 million in 2018, benefitted from the labor department's cash for work program called Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers.

Villanueva asked the government to pour more funds to programs that would generate employment so that workers have a means to earn a living for their families while the economy picks up its pace.

He also proposed funding scholarship programs for displaced workers and returning overseas Filipino workers at the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, for upskilling and retooling. The lawmaker said the Senate version of the Bayanihan 2 bill placed a P1 billion fund for the agency's scholarships to encourage displaced workers to upgrade their skills to become more employable.

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