SENATOR Risa Hontiveros on Friday urged Malacañang to appoint a “Balik-Trabaho Czar” who will take charge of government’s efforts to restore the millions of jobs lost in the unemployment crisis brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Tutal mahilig ang Malacañang sa pag-aapoint ng czar sa iba’t ibang bahagi ng Covid-19 response, sana ay may italaga din na ‘ Balik Trabaho Czar” na magsisikap na ibalik ang trabaho ng milyong-milyong Pilipino ngayong panahon ng krisis,” Hontiveros said.
During a Senate hearing with the country’s economic managers under the Development Budget Coordination Council (DBCC) last Thursday, Hontiveros said that the country needs a person-in-charge who will be given formal authority and responsibility by the president to better oversee and coordinate government’s efforts to connect unemployed Filipinos with new, viable means of employment or livelihood.
“Sa ngayon, hindi malinaw kung sinong opisyal ng pamahalaan ang dapat nakatutok sa pagbuo at pagbalik ng trabaho para sa ating mga kababayan. When I last spoke with Secretary Silverstre Bello III of the Department of Labor and Employment, he told me na hindi daw nya assignment ang employment preservation o employment creation. Then whose job is it? Who is in-charge?,” Hontiveros said.
“Kung hindi natin maagapan ang problema sa unemployment, marami ang magugutom, hindi makakapag-aral at hindi makakuha ng gamutan na kanilang kailangan. This is why we need a “Balik Trabaho Czar” who will take a hands-on approach to solving the unemployment crisis before it gets worse,” she added.
Citing government data, Hontiveros said that roughly 4.6 million Filipinos were jobless as of July 2020, and the number is expected to rise in the coming months. The unemployment rate, she also said, is at 10 percent which is almost twice compared to last year’s rate.
“The unemployment crisis may not be an infectious disease like COVID-19, but it is spreading fast like one in communities nationwide. This is an urgent problem that seriously needs utmost attention from government,” Hontiveros said.
Hontiveros then urged the country’s economic managers to focus not only on securing the country’s credit rating as well as investor grades and exchange rates, but also on how these numbers would be meaningful only in terms of “how more and more people could go back to work and provide for their families.”
“While we worry about these economic indicators, isaalang-alang din natin ang mga nasa ibaba: yung mga ordinaryong Pilipino na ngayon ay nangangailangan ng mapapasukang disenteng trabaho. Sila itong pinakaapektado ng pandemya at nawalan ng kabuhayan kaya huwag natin silang kalimutan,” she concluded.