SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
Members of the House of Representatives concurred to file a Committee Resolution urging the restoration of the P1.9 billion budget cut on the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) appropriation for fiscal year 2020.
The move was initiated by Rep. Enrico Pineda (Party-list, 1-PACMAN) after finding out that the slashed funding will compromise the implementation of key programs aimed to help many Filipino laborers.
The motion was made during the budget briefing conducted by the House Committee on Appropriations chaired by Rep. Isidro Ungab (3rd District, Davao City) on Wednesday. The hearing was presided by panel Vice Chairman Rep. David Suarez (3rd District, Quezon) on DOLE’s P14.4 billion budget proposal.
As noted by House Members, among the programs to be affected by the budget cut are the (1) Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers Program (TUPAD) that lost P1.16 billion or 30 percent, (2) Government Internship Program that decreased by P1.04 billion or 219 percent, and (3) Child Labor Prevention and Elimination Program (CLPEP) which was reduced by P100 million or 667 percent.
Pineda underscored that TUPAD is a significant program that has been supporting many Filipinos, especially after facing severe calamities.
“In times of calamities, a lot of our workers, nadidisplace po ang kanilang livelihood…Imbis na bawasan, dagdagan pa nga ho dapat. Marami ho ang nakikinabang dyan sa aming mga constituents,” Pineda said.
When asked about the CLPEP, Director Karen Perida-Trayvilla conveyed that the Department, in fact, requires P175 million to properly implement the program annually.
With this, Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda (Lone District, Antique) asserted that the funding for the program should be institutionalized in order to ensure that it is appropriately carried out and able to fulfill its objectives.
“To carve out P175 million to protect the children of our country, that would be easy. Mister Vice Chair, I will help you trim down the fat in some agencies to put in P175 million, which is an institutional amendment. It should not be charged to any congressmen,” Legarda said.
Several legislators also raised the issue on contractualization that has been a salient matter being encountered by Filipino workers.
Meanwhile, DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III reported that 504,000 contractual workers have already been regularized from 2016 to 2019. He added that 65 percent were through the voluntary compliance of employers, which signals their cooperation with President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s thrust to solve endo in the country.
Bello, however, admitted that the DOLE is hindered by their limited labor law compliance officers, who are in-charge of examining companies to assure that they regularize the remaining contractual workers in the country.
There are currently 700 LLCOs tasked to inspect almost one million establishments nationwide that require 5,000 inspectors.
Rep. Raymond Democrito Mendoza (Party-list, TUCP) recognized the sentiment of the DOLE and pushed to provide the budget for the needed LLCOs.
“Yung mga endo talaga, hindi mo ma-validate. You don’t know the real situation. You cannot do that with 700 inspectors with almost one million establishments…Mister Chair, I hope that you heed the call of the Secretary na mabigyan ng 5,000 (inspectors),” he said.| Molie Gonzales, News and Documentation Section-Press and Public Affairs Bureau/ House of Representatives of the Philippines