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Displaced workers will continue to receive assistance under 2021 budget, senator says

Workers affected by the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic will continue to receive assistance from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) next year as a result of the interventions made by Congress in the proposed 2021 national budget, a senator said Friday.

Senator Juan Edgardo M. Angara, chairman of the Senate committee on finance, said the members of the bicameral conference committee on the 2021 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) were all in agreement that the workers affected by the pandemic should continue to receive some form of assistance from the government until next year because “many of them are still without jobs.”

“There are still many Filipinos who are economically struggling due to the loss of jobs caused by the pandemic. That is why we increased DOLE’s funds for the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged or Displaced Workers Program (TUPAD), as well as the Government Internship Program (GIP),” Mr. Angara said in a statement.

The budget for TUPAD and GIP, Mr. Angara said, increased by close to 100%, from P9.93 billion under the National Expenditure Program to P19.036 billion in the final version of the spending plan.

TUPAD is a community-based package of assistance that provides emergency employment for displaced workers, underemployed and seasonal workers, for a minimum period of 10 days, but not exceeding a maximum of 30 days, depending on the nature of work to be performed.

GIP, on the other hand, aims to provide opportunities and engage young workers to serve the general public in government agencies/entities projects and programs at the national and local level. 

The economy is in the early stages of opening up again after months of little to no activity because of the restrictions imposed under the community quarantines.

Unemployment hit a peak of 17.6% in April before improving to 10% in July and to 8.7% in October. The October unemployment rate is equivalent to 3.8 million Filipinos without jobs or livelihood.

Also receiving an increase in the budget under DOLE is the Adjustment Measures Program (AMP), from P391.61 million under the NEP to P491.62 million in the GAB.

The DOLE-AMP is a nationwide safety net program that provides a package of assistance for distressed workers and companies. 

Other DOLE programs that were provided with budgetary support are the Integrated Livelihood Program, the Special Program for the Employment of Students, job search assistance programs, the child labor elimination program, and the national skills registry system.

Mr. Angara said the bicam also provided an additional P200 million for the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration’s emergency repatriation fund.

“We are optimistic that the economy will bounce back in 2021 as business operations and consumption start to normalize, especially with the COVID-19 vaccine on its way to mass distribution. But before more jobs become available again, the DOLE will be there to help the affected workers with its various programs that will be funded in the 2021 GAA [General Appropriations Act],” Mr. Angara said. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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