P40B proposed to enhance COVID-19 response for displaced workers

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LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Senator Joel Villanueva wants the government to increase the earmarked appropriations for the emergency employment for displaced workers to some P40 billion to be able to reach out to the needs of people who lost their jobs due to the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Villanueva stated that from P19 billion appropriations for the labor department’s Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Displaced/Disadvantaged Workers (TUPAD) program for this year, the same must be increased to P40 billion to cater to the increasing needs of displaced workers for emergency employment while awaiting for the gradual and safe revival of the local economy.

He pointed out that the government must prioritize the provision of emergency employment assistance to displaced workers for them to have other sources of income for them to sustain the living condition of their families while looking for available jobs that will be offered with the ongoing gradual and safe revival of the country’s economy.

In 2020, the senator disclosed that only P6 billion had been earmarked by the government to sustain the implementation of the TUPAD Program to limited beneficiaries before the funding allocation was increased to P19 billion under this year’s General Appropriations Act (GAA).

According to him, it is important for the government to ensure the provision of temporary source of income for displaced workers for them to be able to survive the prevailing challenges of the pandemic while allowing them to be able to upgrade their skills to be able to acquire fitting jobs in the coming months as the situation remains to be fragile because of the emergence of the new mutations on the COVID-19 virus.

Senator Villanueva recommended that each of the country’s regions should start making an inventory on the possible jobs that will be available and match the same with the qualifications of the displaced workers so that the proposed creation of some 2 million jobs under his proposed national employment recovery strategy will be realized to help in addressing the unemployment that was created by the prevalence of the pandemic over the past 22 months.

Villanueva attended the distribution of the financial assistance to some 755 identified beneficiaries from the towns of La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan and Tublay which he provided funds amounting to some P2.9 million during simple rites held at the closed gymnasium of the Wangal Sports Complex recently.

The lawmaker underscored that more funds should be infused in the provision of emergency employment for displaced workers to ensure that they will be able to cope up with the challenges of the ongoing pandemic while trying to stabilize their sources of income with other jobs that they could acquire while awaiting for the improvement of the difficult situation.

Under the TUPAD guidelines, the identified beneficiaries are required to work for some 10 days in their respective barangays where they will be compensated with the prevailing daily wage in their respective places with the supervision of the labor department.

At present, the prevailing minimum wage for daily wage earners in the Baguio and La Trinidad areas is P350 pursuant to the latest wage order handed down by the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB). By HENT

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