By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senator Joel Villanueva today sounded the alarm on the
employment situation in the Philippines as a result of the pandemic,
saying tens of millions of Filipinos needed employment now and stable
sources of income.
Speaking at the budget hearing for the Department of Labor and
Employment (DOLE) and the Commission on Filipinos Overseas, Villanueva
said the employment picture is getting bleaker as tens of thousands of
overseas Filipino workers continue to return home.
“I believe that the third pandemic year, 2022, will be about jobs,
jobs, jobs,” said Villanueva, chairman of the Senate committee on
“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 ng rin ng pag-asa (If we are unable to create jobs,
our countrymen will not only suffer from hunger but probably lose hope
as well),” Villanueva said.
“Sa gitna po ng anumang krisis, iba po yung may trabaho o hanapbuhay
ang ating mga kababayan dahil kahit anong mangyari, hindi magugutom
ang pamilya nila (In the middle of any crisis, it makes a difference
if our countrymen have jobs because whatever happens, their families
will not go hungry),” he said.
“I am sure that you will all agree,” Villanueva said. “Our displaced
and disadvantaged workers need emergency employment,” he said.
“However, what they need and desire is stable and dependable regular
employment,” Villanueva said.
“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,” he
Villanueva cited government data to show how bleak the employment
picture is. In August 2021, the unemployment rate was 8.1 percent and
underemployment was 14.7 percent.
“In other words, there are 3.88 million unemployed and 6.48 million
underemployed Filipinos,” Villanueva said.
The reality, however, may be worse than what the numbers paint,
according to Villanueva.
“Sa pag-iikot ko po sa iba’t ibang mga probinsiya, mahirap pong
paniwalaan na ganyan lang ang antas ng joblessness sa bansa (As i go
around the provinces, it’s hard to believe that the rate of
joblessness in the country is only that),” he said.
Ang sakit pong makita, lalo na sa mga malls, na kung hindi man sarado
ang mga tindahan, halos walang katao-tao at paisa-isa lang ang mga
empleyado, staff o crew (It’s painful to see, especially in malls,
that if stores are not closed, they’re almost empty and there’s just
one employee, staff or crew),” Villanueva said. (ai/mtvn)