With the threat of unemployment looming as a result of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) spread in the country, Senator Joel Villanueva urged the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to expedite the implementation of programs that will help affected workers weather it out and transition to new jobs.

Villanueva noted that the labor department must already begin their efforts to help the labor market brace itself for shocks that could send unemployment figures in an upward trend as the infectious disease continues to make business operations difficult and result to layoffs.

“The livelihood of our workers should continue even if some of them would lose their jobs as a result of COVID-19 affecting the operations of their employers. We call on DOLE to immediately implement programs to ensure displaced workers would still be able to earn a living for their families instead of totally being unemployed,” said the chair of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resources Development.

“Among the programs which can help displaced workers was DOLE’s TUPAD.”

The veteran legislator, who defended the department’s budget at last year’s deliberations in the Upper Chamber, explained that among the programs which can help displaced workers was DOLE’s Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD).

A form of emergency employment assistance, TUPAD is a grass-roots approach to emergency employment as it is implemented in communities for displaced workers, seasonal workers, and even the underemployed. Beneficiaries work for a minimum of 10 days but not exceeding 30 days, depending on the nature of the work to be performed, according to the DOLE website.

TUPAD beneficiaries work on social community projects such as repair, maintenance, rehabilitation or improvement of common public and service facilities, as well as helping implement agro-forestry projects like tree-planting and growing initiatives, among others.

After the project is completed, beneficiaries could avail of skills training through Technical Education and Skills Development Authority or its accredited training facility to help workers be equipped with new skills that would help their transition back to the workforce.

The seasoned lawmaker said he hoped that DOLE could quickly implement TUPAD on areas that could be hit hardest by layoffs so that the “disruption to the livelihood of workers are kept at a minimum.”

“The key for DOLE is anticipation.”

“The key for DOLE is anticipation. TUPAD is not only a means of being employed in tough times. We see it as an opportunity for workers to earn a living and to upskill at the end of the program,” the senator pointed out.

A recent study by the Asian Development Bank forecasts that the Philippine economy might lose between 87,000 to 252,000 jobs in five sectors, in addition to $669 million to $1.94 billion in GDP, if COVID-19 is not contained in the country.


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