Senator Joel Villanueva has appealed to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to continue sourcing funds for the government’s emergency employment programs that support workers while the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) is being enforced in Luzon.

Villanueva explained that the emergency employment programs of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has so far received P1.5 billion from its proposed P7.8 billion funding requirement to run its emergency employment programs for workers in the formal and informal sectors, and overseas Filipino workers, who are all affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We hope that our DBM augment the coffers of DOLE so it could continue its emergency employment programs.”

“Our Bayanihan Law states that DOLE programs will be prioritized for budget augmentation, but it has only received about 16 percent of their total proposed funding requirement. We hope that our DBM augment the coffers of DOLE so it could continue its emergency employment programs,” said the chair of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resource Development.

“If the proposed P7.8 billion could not be fully granted at this time, we hope the government can spare whatever funds it has for DOLE to continue providing the much-needed assistance for the workers whose companies have already applied for CAMP benefits as of April 15,” the veteran legislator added.

“We should continue to be compassionate and swift in helping our workers survive the pandemic, especially since it would impose additional hardship for those who already applied, but unable to get CAMP benefits, to reapply again with DOF or DSWD, as the case may be,” the seasoned lawmaker stressed.

The senator pointed out that the department has yet to make significant headway into meeting its target number of beneficiaries for its COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP), the support program for workers in the formal sector. DOLE recently announced it was suspending the program because its funds had been depleted.

Citing a report his office received from DOLE, he said the department targeted some 540,000 workers to benefit from CAMP. But as of April 13, the program has only attained 31 percent of its target beneficiaries, reaching a total of 167,941 workers, as mentioned in the President’s third Report to Congress on the Bayanihan Law.

“We hope that the suspension of CAMP is just temporary.”

“DOLE-CAMP should be allowed continue so it could improve its reach. We have confidence in our economic team that it would be able to find a way to replenish the coffers of the labor department,” Villanueva said. “We hope that the suspension of CAMP is just temporary.”

Aside from CAMP, DOLE also implements Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Displaced/Disadvantaged Workers (TUPAD) for workers in the informal sector and Abot Kamay sa Pagtulong (AKAP) for overseas Filipino workers.

TUPAD beneficiaries have reached 118,086 workers, 17 percent of the department’s target of 700,000 workers. For AKAP, DOLE expects to cover 150,000 OFWs displaced or repatriated due to the pandemic, with each beneficiary receiving P10,000.

While CAMP’s implementation is on a break, he urged the labor department to continue processing the pending applications, and deal away with requirements that are outside the program’s guidelines.

Villanueva said his office received feedback from workers on the apparent additional requirements some DOLE regional offices are imposing. A region office in the Visayas requires CAMP applicants to state the educational attainment of workers in one of the necessary forms, while another region office asks employers to submit signed payroll slips.

He also pointed out that his office received a complaint from one CAMP applicant that applied since March 19, but whose employees have yet to receive the P5k assistance as of April 17.

“We ask Secretary Bello to look into these reports and prevail on field offices to remove unnecessary requirements so we can expedite the assistance to our workers,” Villanueva said.


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