A neophyte lawmaker on Friday sought a congressional inquiry into the plight of public and private employment services as more Filipinos lose their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rizal Rep. Fidel Nograles filed House Resolution 1126, which cites these services' "crucial role in preventing the labor market from seizing up during the crisis and in promoting a fast recovery once quarantine measures start to be lifted.”
“We need to find out whether our own Public Employment Service Office [PESO] and private employment agencies are able to properly respond to the extraordinary circumstances we are facing and remedy whatever lack these institutions might have,” said Nograles, vice chairman of the House’s committee on justice.
The PESO was created pursuant to Republic Act 8759, or the PESO Act of 1999, as a non-fee charging multi-employment service facility to strengthen and expand the employment facilitation service machinery of the government, particularly at the local levels.
The Philippines’ gross domestic product shrank 16.5 percent in the second quarter of 2020, the lowest recorded quarterly growth since 1981, which plunged the country into recession.
The Philippines also posted a record-high unemployment rate, with the number of jobless Filipinos ballooning to 17.7 percent or 7.3 million people, the Philippine Statistics Authority said.
The Labor department, meanwhile, said it had repatriated 139,000 Filipino workers abroad since May, with 80,000 more migrant workers still waiting to be brought home.
“The employment services have played a crucial role in our fight against the COVID-19 crisis," Nograles said.
He included among the government’s to-do list the preparation of a comprehensive inventory of available jobs in the market.
“We need to aggressively coordinate with the private sector, academe and civil organizations for the accumulation of information and the aggregation of available jobs,” Nograles said.
He also cited the need for congressional inquiry into the matter to find out "what the PESO is doing so far to fill around 264,000 vacant positions in the government, which he said could help absorb some displaced workers."