The government should take the lead in restoring business confidence and create jobs by increasing spending on infrastructure such as public health facilities and healthcare services, according to Senator Joel Villanueva.

Villanueva, chair of the Senate labor committee, issued the call in the wake of the unemployment report from the Philippine Statistics Authority saying joblessness in the country decreased to 8.7% in October or about 3.8 million Filipinos, but largely because people stopped looking for work.

“We cannot afford to let the morale of our labor force slump further.”

“We are bothered by the fact that the latest data clearly reflects how the pandemic is manifesting on the psyche of our workers, who decided to stop looking for work at all. We cannot afford to let the morale of our labor force slump further, that is why our government should intervene by increasing spending to restore business confidence. By spending effectively on our people, our government will lead the way for business confidence to be restored, and once that happens, job opportunities for our workers will certainly follow,” the veteran legislator said.

“The ball is in the government’s court now. It is the government that has the capacity to get our economy back on track. We should continue spending on social services such as healthcare for our people, while infrastructure spending should be our top priority next year to create jobs for our workers,” the seasoned lawmaker added.

According to the PSA report, fewer Filipinos went jobless and out of business in October, largely due to more people stopping job search for various reasons including going back to school or their old jobs getting killed by the ongoing digital shift.

The jobless rate, computed as the proportion of unemployed people to the labor force, was estimated at 8.7% in October or equivalent to 3.8 million Filipinos, down from 10% or 4.6 million in July. Joblessness peaked at 17.7% or 7.2 million in April, when the enhanced community quarantine was still in force.

“The public will do business with establishments that they deem to be safe from the coronavirus.”

The senator urged the government to be strict in enforcing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) protection protocols as he said the public will do business with establishments that they deem to be safe from the coronavirus.

“Prayoridad po ng mga ating mga manggagawa ang kanilang kalusugan at nag-iingat sila dahil nga sa kasulukuyang pandemya na dulot ng COVID-19. Mas pipiliin nilang pasukan ang mga employer na sa tingin nila ay sumusunod sa COVID-19 protocols,” he said.

The same PSA report noted that with companies not hiring and the job market shrinking, about 38% of people surveyed with jobs are still hesitant to report to work in October because of lockdowns and fear of catching the virus.

“Isa pong makapagpapataas ng kumpyansa ng ating mga negosyo na siyang maglilikha ng iba’t ibang pagkakataon para sa ating mga manggagawa ay ang pagpapatupad ng mga COVID-19 protocols. Ang pag-kontrol sa pagkalat ng sakit ay napakahalaga upang pasiglahin ang mga negosyo na siyang lilikha ng trabaho at oportunidad para sa ating mga manggagawa,” Villanueva said.

“Bagama’t niluluwagan na ang ating mga quarantine restrictions, hindi pa rin po dapat maging pabaya sa pagpapatupad ng social distancing, pagsuot ng mask, at pagpapanatili ng kalinisan,” he concluded.

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