Assisting the labor sector remains a top priority for Senator Joel Villanueva even as the Senate adjourned sine die its first regular session in the 18th Congress without approving the proposed “Bayanihan to Recover as One Act” (Bayanihan 2 bill).

Villanueva, chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resources Development, expressed his determination to expand the assistance provided to workers whom he described as one of the hardest hit sectors by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The worst is not yet over for workers.”

“The worst is not yet over for workers. Not everyone will have a chance to go back to their jobs because of retrenchments and the closing down of some businesses. The least our government could do is to provide emergency employment for our workers so they could continue earning for their basic needs,” the veteran legislator said. “We must not fail our people in this critical time.”

“Fresh funding should allow DOLE to reach more workers better.”’

“Fresh funding should allow the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to reach more workers better than they did when they implemented their programs in the past few months,” the seasoned lawmaker added.

DOLE programs provided cash assistance to formal workers, cash-for-work assistance to informal sector workers, and cash grants to overseas Filipino workers displaced due to the pandemic. At least 1 million workers have benefited from DOLE’s emergency employment programs, according to the 10th Bayanihan report submitted to Congress recently.

The senator is optimistic about getting sufficient allocations for the emergency employment programs.

“We are optimistic that our colleagues will be able to provide for the needs of our people, especially our workers,” he said.

Villanueva also continued to advocate for the needs of the higher and technical education, another sector affected by COVID-19.

“We are also looking to beef up the capacity of our state universities and colleges (SUCs) and state tech-voc training institutes (TVIs) in providing distance education through online classes and modules,” said chair of the chamber’s higher education committee.

“We already have online course for TESDA where our displaced workers can retool or upskill while looking for work. We have to expand the agency’s capacity to handle students online so more people can be trained and retooled,” Villanueva concluded.

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