Press Release
May 1, 2017


SENATOR Sonny Angara has called on his fellow senators to cross party lines and approve his proposed measure that will give employment to jobless workers in rural areas.

Senate Bill 947, entitled "An Act Providing for Rural Employment Assistance Program and Appropriating Funds thereof," or REAP, is currently pending at the Committee on social justice, welfare and rural development.

Under section 3 of Angara's bill, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), in coordination with local government units, shall establish REAP to create employment, for a minimum of 45 days, or a maximum of 90 days in every calendar year, for qualified family heads or unmarried single adult members of qualified poor households in rural areas who volunteer to do unskilled manual work.

REAP qualifiers shall receive a daily minimum wage set by the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board. They shall also be covered by the SSS (Social Security System), PhilHealth (Philippine Health Insurance Corporation)and PAG-IBIG (Home Development Mutual Fund).

As defined in the bill, a "rural area" refers to a barangay which has a population of less than 2,500 and which does not have any business establishment with 25 or more employees, or 5 or more establishments with a minimum of 10 employees, or five facilities within two-kilometer radius from the barangay hall.

Angara said the lack of significant economic growth in rural areas may have largely contributed to the continued rise of unemployment rate in the countryside.

"Many studies have shown that poverty in our country is most severe and widespread in rural areas, where almost 80% of the poor population live," the senator pointed out.

Angara cited statistics from the Labor Force Survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority which showed that as of April 2016, the unemployment rate in the national level was 6.1 percent, equivalent to 2.594 million unemployed persons (of working age), which was higher than 5.8 percent, or 2.469 million in January of the same year.

In the measure, "poor" was defined as individuals or families whose income fall below the poverty threshold as defined by the government or those who cannot afford to provide the minimum basic needs of food, health, education, housing and other essential amenities of life in a sustained manner or those who have been identified as poor by the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction of the DSWD-PR.

They will be employed in projects that include development, rebuilding and rehabilitation of agri-business livelihood assets destroyed or lost due to natural disasters such as desilting of irrigation canals; rehabilitation and development of common service facilities which are being shared and used by poor families as production or consolidation centers such as post-harvest facilities and public markets; development or rehabilitation of physical assets to open up access to natural assets where the former is necessary to bring the products of poor families to the market such as farm-to-market roads, slope protection and bridges; as well as protection of productive assets through mitigation measures such as mangrove planting, rehabilitation and tree planting.

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