Press Release
October 11, 2021

Opening Remarks of Senator Joel Villanueva on the 2022 budget hearing of the Department of Labor and Employment and Commission on Filipinos Overseas

Isang maganda at magpagpalang araw po sa ating lahat.

Today, we are going to hear the budget of the Department of Labor and Employment and its attached agencies, led by our good friend and favorite Secretary, Secretary Bebot Bello, and of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas, led by Chairperson Francisco Acosta.

Trabaho po ang lagi nating trabaho dito sa Senado. At sa trabahong ito, magkakasama po tayo. I believe that the third pandemic year, 2022, will be about jobs, jobs, jobs.

Kung hindi po tayo makakagawa at makakalikha ng trabaho, hindi lang po kalam ng sikmura ang daranasin ng ating mga kababayan kundi baka pati ang kawalan na rin ng pag-asa.

It is important to emphasize the crucial role of our offices not only in employment recovery but in job creation. Hindi lang po pagsalba ng trabaho, hindi lang po panandaliang trabaho, kundi paglikha po ng matatag at pangmatagalang trabaho ang trabaho natin.

I am sure that you will all agree. Our displaced and disadvantaged workers need emergency employment. However, what they need and desire is stable and dependable regular employment. I hope that the budget of DOLE and its attached agencies will reflect that as a priority.

The challenges that DOLE faced last year continue this year as thousands of Overseas Filipino Workers return to the Philippines adding to the millions of unemployed and underemployed workers.

The POEA and OWWA are also here and we are very interested to know how they intend to spend their budgets especially for reintegration services and providing livelihood opportunities for OFWs who were sent home due to the pandemic.

Ngayong araw din po, mayroon po tayong oportunidad na busisiin ang proposed budget ng DOLE and we are looking forward to the clarification of DOLE on pressing and timely issues like the number of jobs created under the National Employment Recovery Strategy or NERS.

Pagdating naman po sa licensure examinations, only 11 out of 85 board exams pushed through in 2020 and only 29 out of 101 board exams have so far materialized this 2021. Of course, we totally understand the health risks - kailangan po talagang mag-comply sa IATF.

And that's the reason why we have been reiterating our call for the PRC to look for alternative ways of conducting licensure examinations in the "new normal" kasi ang laki po talaga ng impact ninyo sa job generation.

As the principal author of the First-Time Jobseekers Assistance Act, alam po natin kung gaano kahalaga ang PRC license para makapag-apply ng trabaho, although hindi na po natin isinama sa mga covered governmental transactions ng batas ang "application for board exam fee".

Naniniwala po tayo na malaki ang tungkuling gagampanan ng DOLE, POEA, OWWA, PRC at iba pa sa muling pag-usbong ng trabaho at kabuhayan ng ating bansa. Our labor policies should be flexible enough to accommodate the necessary and unavoidable changes in our workplace but also sturdy not to compromise the rights and interest of the Filipino worker.

In this budget hearing, we will also tackle CFO's proposed budget and how the agency uses its funds in the execution of its mandate to provide services to Filipino emigrants and to promote and uphold the interest, rights and welfare of overseas Filipinos.

I'm sure makakatulong po ang pagdinig sa budget ng CFO sa itinatayo nating Department of Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos which seeks to remedy the "coordination issues" among agencies working for OFW concerns.

Let us proceed with this budget hearing with employment recovery and job creation as our absolute priority.

Maraming salamat po and God bless us all.

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