picture of women working as cashier in a grocery store, call center agent, and a construction workerImproved labor market outcomes – thanks to the ongoing recovery efforts, strong employment facilitation services and social protection programs, and the intensified efforts towards the protection and security of local and overseas Filipino workers. These were highlighted as key accomplishments of the labor department under the Duterte administration as described by Labor Assistant Secretary Dominique Rubia-Tutay during a Pre-SONA Interview with CNN Philippines on 21 July 2021.

Since President Duterte’s assumption of office in 2016, the country’s labor market continuously recorded positive gains. Asec, Rubia-Tutay reported that the number of employed persons in 2019 reached 42.427 million; translating to roughly 1.429 million net generated employment prior to the pandemic. Unemployment and underemployment rates dropped to their lowest in decades; 4.5 and 13 percent, respectively, by the end of 2019.

The department credits the enactment of landmark legislations like the Tulong Trabaho Act, Telecommuting Act, 105-Day Expanded Maternity Leave Law, and the Unemployment Insurance under the Amended SSS Law as instrumental in the attainment of such favorable indicators.

While the COVID-19 pandemic somehow hampered continuous breakthroughs in the labor market, Asec. Rubia-Tutay affirmed that the national government’s recovery efforts under the National Employment Recovery Strategy is expected to bring back at least 220,000 jobs and assist 1.421 million workers, encouraging positive growth in hard-hit industries (i.e., construction, manufacturing, tourism and hospitality) through partnerships with the private sector. 

Asked about labor groups’ clamor for a more rigorous “end of contract” scheme, Rubia-Tutay touted the DOLE’s aggressive and strict enforcement of labor standards and promotion of policies that promote workers’ right to security of tenure, seeing to the regularization of over 600,000 contractual workers since 2016. More recently, the department endorsed a request for the President to have the “ENDO” Bill certified as urgent, demonstrating its commitment to the promotion of high quality, stable employment.

In line with President Duterte’s strong push for OFW protection and support, the DOLE prioritized the adoption of measures and mechanisms to protect the welfare and interest of OFWs at every stage of the migration cycle – from recruitment to deployment to reintegration. Around 623,000 are said to have been repatriated, with over 6 million served by One-Stop Service Centers for OFWs (OSSCOs). The department also expects the construction of the OFW Hospital and Diagnostic Center in San Fernando, Pampanga to be finished by the end of the year—a lasting legacy of the administration to OFWs and their families.

On the COVID-19 pandemic, the assistant secretary reported that over 4 million formal and informal sector and overseas workers were provided financial assistance and emergency employment by the DOLE, with a total of Php 21.05 billion disbursed under BAYANIHAN 1 and 2.

Asec. Rubia-Tutay stressed that the department remains firmly resolved in its efforts to enhance the employability of Filipino workers. DOLE stands dedicated to ensuring the protection of worker’s rights and maintenance of industrial peace, and strengthening social protection for vulnerable workers, especially in the New Normal.

 

END/22 July 2021