By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Alarmed over spike in the country’s unemployment figures,
Senator Sonny Angara called on the Department of Labor and Employment
(DOLE) to come up with programs targeted at all the industries and
individuals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the hearing on the 2022 budget of the DOLE, Angara commended
the agency on its various programs to assist various sectors in coping
with the pandemic such as the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating
Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD), Special Program for the
Employment of Students (SPES) and the COVID-19 Adjustment Measures
While saying that these services provided by DOLE are valuable during
these challenging times, Angara said every effort should be extended
to ensure that no Filipino who needs help is left behind.
“Malayo pa sa 2019 levels ang recovery ng ating mga local industries
tulad ng tourism, transportation and the associated industries. We
should come up with special programs that are targeted towards the
heavily affected industries,” Angara said.
“It’s a well-established fact that COVID has exacerbated or made
inequality worse. We’re adding to the ranks of poor people if we do
not develop programs on the fly,” he added.
The Chairman of the Committee on Finance took note of the alarming
employment data, particularly the 8.1 percent unemployment rate in
August 2021 as reported by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
Based on the PSA report, the 8.1 percent is equivalent to around 3.88
million jobless Filipinos and is higher than the 6.9 percent recorded
in July 2021.
In a briefing before the Senate last week, the Department of Trade and
Industry has also indicated that over 830,000 Filipinos lost their
jobs last year.
“The latest employment figures are quite disturbing. We haven’t
reached such levels in 15 years. Underemployment was at 20 percent in
July and is down to 14 percent in August. We must have strategies to
address this,” Angara said.
Angara said DOLE should have a feedback mechanism to know precisely
who lost their jobs during the pandemic, where they are situated and
which sector they belong to.
“The role of the DOLE is to pinpoint who has been affected. DOLE has
the institutional capacity to know where they are. So it is very
important that we have an information mechanism for this,” Angara
“It looks very difficult for these industries moving forward. Sana
mabigyan ng special attention lahat within the very worthy programs of
DOLE like TUPAD and CAMP. At least para makatawid man lang sila
because I don’t think these people will be included within the rolls
of CCT beneficiaries for instance,” Angara added.
DOLE has sought additional funding for TUPAD and CAMP in order to
cover all affected workers in the formal and informal sectors and even
the overseas Filipino workers.
The agency also has a National Employment Recovery Strategy to help
displaced workers in the tourism and other related sectors to
transition to other industries where their demand for jobs is higher.