Give donation to Consortium

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Jobs and skills fair assists GFC-affected workers in southern Philippines

In response to the global financial crisis (GFC), the government in partnership with private sector employers pushed through with a successful jobs, livelihood and skills fair assisting affected local and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), with no less than the President gracing the event Thursday in Cagayan de Oro City.

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque said the jobs fair was facilitated by the DOLE Regional Office No. 10 and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
Roque and POEA Administrator Jennifer Manalili, together with Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Administrator Carmelita Dimzon, joined President Arroyo in personally observing the event.

The job fair was held simultaneously with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority’s (TESDA) “Jobs Bridging, Skills Retraining” at the SM City Cagayan de Oro.

By mid-day Thursday, about 44 displaced workers due to the global economic crisis were hired on-the spot for redeployment to the Middle East with 1,155 job seekers registered, of which 115 were displaced OFWs.

Roque said 40 recruitment agencies, 62 government agencies, and 35 “Tek-Bok” (Technical-vocational) providers participated in the 1-day event.

Roque appreciated the effort of the DOLE agency in charge of the development of the country’s manpower resources in complementing the efforts of its sister agencies in the Department to facilitate employment thus complementing the DOLE-led local and global efforts in response to the GFC.

The Labor Chief emphasized that the active, onsite presence of no less than Her Excellency, President Macapagal-Arroyo in the Mindanao area in time for the event, underscores the importance of her Administration’s thrust to bring the basic services of the government such as jobs fairs and training closer to the affected workers and the public to alleviate the effects of the GFC.

On the same occasion, President Arroyo also handed over P1.2 million fund to at least three beneficiary municipalities under DOLE’s Tulong Pangkabuhayan sa Ating Disadvantaged Workers (TUPAD) and Integrated Services for Livelihood Advancement (ISLA) projects under the Comprehensive Livelihood and Emergency Assistance (CLEEP) program of the Arroyo administration both for workers displaced by the effects of the global crisis and other unemployed.

Beneficiaries are the towns of Linamon (P313,500), Kolambugan (P313,500) and Sultan Naga Dimaporo (P573,000), all in Lanao del Norte, for a total of 203 workers.
The Labor Chief added that other DOLE frontline agencies involved in the fight against the global financial crisis, such as the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), and the National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO), provided crucial support in the jobs and skills event, complement by key tech-voc institutions and enterprise partners in the area.

Jinggoy Slams New Zealand Official for Belittling Pinoy Nurses

Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada has lambasted the director of the New Zealand Nursing Council for belittling Filipino nurses and said the official should be slapped with a diplomatic protest if no public apology is made.

"We should defend our countrymen, especially our OFWs, against this affront," Estrada, chair of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development, and the joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Labor and Employment, said during his Friday nationwide program "Boses ng Masa (Voice of the Masses)" aired over DZRH radio.

Estrada particularly denounced New Zealand Nursing Council Director David Wills, who questioned the quality of nursing qualifications and training programs in the Philippines based merely on the observation that the number of nursing students in the country boomed from 30,000 in 2004 to 450,000 in 2008.

Wills said that New Zealand as well as other overseas nursing authorities have stopped registering Filipino nurses because of concerns over their qualifications.

Estrada said his office received a letter-complaint from a Filipino nurse who spent at least $8,000 to process her application and deployment in New Zealand but was eventually denied registration by the Council, thus resulting to her current status as unemployed and overstaying alien in that country.

During the radio program, Estrada interviewed Philippine Ambassador Bienvenido Tejano by phone in Wellington , New Zealand , who reported there are now about 50 "distressed" overstaying Filipinos in New Zealand , many of them nurses who were denied registration by the Council.

Tejano feared that the number of distressed Filipinos in New Zealand would arise following the disenfranchisement of Filipino nurses from registering thru its Council.

Wills was quoted in news reports with his remark, "It is easier to get a fresh graduate from Kenya registered than someone from the Philippines."

"Hindi naman ako papayag sa ganyang maling pagturing sa ating mga nurse, with due respect sa mga nurse mula sa Kenya," Estrada said, declaring that the mere increase in the number of students taking up nursing course does not in any way translate to a decrease in the quality of nursing studies in the Philippines.

Estrada urged the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to immediately file a diplomatic protest against Mr.Wills and demand a public apology from the New Zealand Nusing Council director.

According to Estrada, his office also received a letter from New Zealand national, Mr. Bill Marshall, who said: "Based on my personal experience, having been a patient in Middlemore Hospital heart ward, I can say Thank God for nurses from the Philippines. It has occurred to me that our hospital system (in New Zealand) could risk collapse without the contingency of Filipino nurses that we have. Filipino nurses deserve our respect."

Estrada said the Philippine government should immediately resolve the issue with the New Zealand Nursing Council and push for fair treatment of Filipino nurses by New Zealand as part of its "due recognition" of the OFWs' contribution to its healthcare system and its economy.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

5th Philippine Ports and Shipping Conference





DOTC Secretary Leandro R. Mendoza together with Philippine Ports Authority General Manager Oscar M. Sevilla cut the ribbon during the opening ceremony of the 5th Philippine Ports and Shipping Conference and Exhibition held in Peninsula Manila recently. Looking on are conference organizer and chairman Rory Doyle with other conference facilitators and moderators.

Key agri-based industries jointly tackle solutions to global financial crisis in DOLE-led Mindanao summit


The common fight to push back and mitigate the effects of the global financial crisis (GFC) has been brought to priority areas of the country particularly among vulnerable sectors in the agri-based industries with the Multi-Sectoral Conference for Global Financial Crisis-Affected Workers in Selected Agri-Based Industries convening Friday in Davao City.

Labor Secretary Marianito D. Roque was joined by 3+ Social Partners (labor, management, government and other sectors) at the Apo View Hotel where about 120 participants gathered.

Following his message opening the conference, two major business leaders in the south provided a vital local perspective in the joint efforts against the GFC, in the persons of Vic Lao, chair of the Mindanao Business Council who tackled, The Global Financial Crisis’ Impact On Mindanao Economy: A Mindanaon’s Perspective,” and Simeon Marfori II, president of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who dwelt on “Finding our Strengths and Taking Advantage of New Opportunities in These Challenging Times.”

A workshop proper subsequently focused on the issues and responses to GFC-issues affecting workers and business in the country’s Rubber, Coconut, Abaca, Tuna/Sardines, and Banana Industries.

At the culmination of the event today (February 14), the sectors will join hands and close ranks, as they earlier did on the national level in Malacañang, in facing together, addressing and supporting the need for uninterrupted growth of business and job loss prevention and preservation in crucial agri-based industries of the country, along with the application of appropriate safety net measures as necessary for affected workers and industries.

“Indeed, these are job-generating industries,” Roque said, “in which the Mindanao region happen to have a major role, thus indicating the timeliness and importance of the current conference on GFC-affected workers in the selected agri-based industries.”

Aside from the signing of a joint communiqué by the participants, beneficiaries of the TUPAD (Tulong Panghanapbuhay Para Sa Ating Disadvantaged Workers, one of DOLE’s two enrolled programs in the Comprehensive Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program of President Arroyo) will receive their checks for their coconut rehabilitation-cum-abaca projects from the Secretary of Labor and Employment, to be witnessed by Governor Corazon Malanyaon of Davao Oriental. Beneficiaries are coconut farmers in the municipalities of Manay, Caraga, Tarragona and Governor Generoso, all in Davao Oriental.

Roque, prior to branching out the GFC efforts regionally, had earlier spurred the successful Summit themed, “Joining Hands against the GFC” wherein the 3+ social partners together presented to President Macapagal Arroyo a joint Communique of support to continued business growth, safety net measures and assistance to GFC-affected workers and industries. Ahead of the Summit in Malacañang, the Labor Chief initiated the first national Multi-Sectoral Conference on the GFC wherein the social partners jointly participated in workshops to the necessary GFC measures.

NARS to train inexperienced nurses in public health and clinical functions

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said unemployed nurses who will be hired under the NARS (nurses assigned in rural service) program will be trained to perform public health functions and the necessary clinical tasks to enhance their employability in local hospitals and eventually in medical centers overseas.

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque said the NARS program is a training-cum employment scheme wherein the hired nurse-trainees will be trained not only in providing basic health services to needy folks in rural areas but also in performing clinical functions under the guidance of participating hospitals and other medical facilities in areas where the nurse-trainees will be assigned.

Roque said the Department of Health would identify the hospitals and other medical providers that would participate in the NARS program and at the same time formulate the program’s training module and related learning and development activities in close coordination with the Board of Nursing of the Professional Regulations Commission.

He added that the DOH would also closely supervise the training of the nurse-trainees whose competencies would later be assessed by the PRC-BON, thereby, ensuring that the trainees are equipped with the essential skills and knowledge for employment locally and eventually overseas.

Roque also specified that the NARS program is not a waste of taxpayer money saying that on the contrary, the program would serve the people in areas where medical services are mostly needed. He added that it would also serve as the nurse-trainee’s jump-off point for a full-time job in local hospitals where they can gain the necessary experience that would later qualify them for employment overseas.

The NARS program was launched by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during the Multi-Sectoral Summit on “Joining Hands Against the Global Crisis” held recently in Malacanan Palace in line with the pump priming strategies aimed at mitigating the impact of the global financial crisis on Filipino workers.

The program aims to address the (1) glut in inexperienced nurses, (2) the proliferation of “volunteer nurses” working in hospitals without being paid, (3) promote health of the people, and (4) bring government services closer to the grassroots.

Nurses will be deployed at an average of five per town in the 1,000 poorest municipalities, for a six-months tour of duty. Completion of the training program under NARS program will be considered as a substitute for the work experience requirement of hospitals and other health facilities.

Roque said the nurse-trainees will be jointly issued the Certificate of Completion by the DOLE, DOH and PRC, adding that while on training, the nurses will be given a stipend/allowance of P8,000.00 per month.

The DOLE Chief, nonetheless, urged local governments to support the program by offering additional allowances to nurse-trainees assigned in their localities. He also appealed to corporations to chip in by providing shirts, insurance, vitamins, etc.

Unemployed registered nurses who are physically and mentally fit and willing to serve in their hometowns and who meet the following requirements may qualify for the training cum employment under NARS: a) with valid nurse license issued by the PRC b) not over 35 years old c) resident of the identified municipalities d) no nursing-related practice for 1-3 years.

Roque said qualified applicants may apply online at http//www.nars.dole.gov.ph, or at the nearest DOLE regional office from 23 February 2009 to 31 March 2009.

Nurse applicants who are children of workers affected by the global crisis will be given priority in the selection, he said.

Ang Magagawa ng OFW Bukod sa Magpadala ng Pera

Note: forwarded email message

Mga pwedeng pang gawin ng OFW at Pinoy abroad para makatulong sa Pilipinas bukod sa pagpapadala ng remittance. Mula sa librong KAPENG ARABO:

Kung magbabakasyon, piliin ang ilang lugar sa Pinas. Napuntahan mo na ba ang world-class resorts ng Bora, Palawan, Puerto Gallera, Pagudpod, Dakak, at Camiguin? Nabisita mo na ang UNESCO heritage site ng Vigan at Fort Ilocandia? Naramdaman mo na ba ang calmness ng isla ng Batanes? O makalaglag-pangang wonders ng Bohol? Nasubukan mo na bang maglangoy kasama ng whale sharks ng Sorsogon? Hindi natin kailangan pang gastusin ang pera natin sa ibang lugar. Sa ‘pinas na lang, solve ka na. In the end, tayo pa rin ang makikinabang.
Gawin misyon ang makapag-recruit ng at least 1 turista sa ‘Pinas sa buong OFW lifetime. Malaking tulong ito sa industriya ng turismo.
Kung bibili ng damit o gamit, gawin mo na sa Pinas. Isipin na lang kung may isang milyong Pinoy na nagbabakasyon sa isang taon, at bibili ng tig-iisang damit. Aba ! Laking tulong sa namumuhunan. Mas ok kung Pinoy product pa. Pero kung foreign brand naman, sa Pinas mo pa rin bilhin. At least sa Pinas pa rin papasok ang tax non.
Sa Pinas na rin bumili ng pasalubong. Halos lahat naman ng meron sa labas ng bansa, mayron na rin sa atin.
Kung may extra ka rin lang naming pera, pag-aralin ang kamag-anak o kung sino mang napipisil mong walang kakayanan. O kung wala ka namang kamag-anak, puwedeng sumangguni sa mga organisasyong may katulad na layunin.
Magtayo ng negosyo sa Pinas kahit maliit lang. Huwang munang asamin kumita ng malaki, basta mapaikot lang ang puhunan. Isipin na lang muna na training ito para mas malaking business venture sa future.
Hindi natin kailangan gumawa ng malalaking effort para makakuha ng malaking results. Kadalasan pa nga ang pagkalunod natin sa malalaking undertaking ang pumapatay sa hangarin nating makagawa ng magagandang bagay. Dapat simulan natin sa mga simple lang. Mga simpleng bagay pero may malalim na kahulugan.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Philippine Forecast: Year of the Castrated Bull

Romeo Bernardo & Margarita Gonzales


Executive Summary

The Year of the Ox in the Chinese astrological calendar signifies prosperity through hard work and fortitude. That may not be exactly the case this year.
With world economic conditions deteriorating at a rapid pace, we see a gloomier picture for the Philippines compared to when we last made our forecasts. But even with consumption slowing and private investment dwindling and unemployment rising here and abroad, we still expect the
economy to register some growth.
Both fiscal and monetary policy will be eased in response to economic weakness. However, we see a worsening of fiscal numbers not primarily because of the touted fiscal stimulus, which we believe will be limited, but to an erosion of revenues due to cyclical factors and disappearance of one-offs coupled by implementation of tax measures with negative revenue impact.
Despite difficulties, we still see plus signs in the country's payments position. The sharp drop in world import commodity prices, especially oil, allows a current account surplus even in bad scenarios this year for remittances and exports. Additionally, stress is minimized by the demonstrated ability of the country to access capital markets and service maturing debt (as evidenced by a recent successful dollar bond issuance) and diminishing political risk.
A sharper, more protracted global downturn remains a significant downside risk, especially its impact on remittances, an important driver of the economy that now seems to be temporarily grinding to a halt.(See attached file: 2009 02 04 1Q The_year_of_the_castrated_bull1 _2_.pdf)

DOLE cites 3+ Social Partners for Joining Hands Against Global Financial Crisis

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque, has cited the social partners for affirming their support to continuing business growth and the need to preserve jobs and sustain opportunities during the recent multi-sectoral job summit in Malacañan.

The Labor and Employment Chief particularly cited the top leaders representing the labor, management, government and other sectors (or the 3+ Social Partners) of the country for signing in the joint Communique, affirming their support to safety net measures and livelihood assistance in support of affected workers, the facilitation of up to 1.4 million in job opportunities, emphasizing the need to allocate at least 1.5% of the estimated P1.4 trillion 2009 operating budget of the Philippines’ government agencies in the fight to mitigate and push back the global crisis' effects.

Specifically, the 3+ social partners affirmed livelihood assistance in support of affected local and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) through the following projects of key government agencies: P402 million under the DOLE’s Integrated Livelihood Program, and P50 million under its Reintegration Program along with a P1 billion Loan Portfolio under the DOLE-Overseas Workers Welfare Administration’s Filipino Expatriate Livelihood Support Fund; complemented by the Land Bank of the Philippines’ P1 billion “LBP Negosyo Program for Global Financial Crisis Affected Workers” and the Development Bank of the Philippines Livelihood Program; and P1.38 billion under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Livelihood Investment for displaced workers in the uplands.

They also backed a target of up to 1.4 million in both local job opportunities through various government and private sector initiatives, along with overseas jobs.

These include around 23,550 jobs under the DOLE’s Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged Workers (TUPAD) and Integrated Services for Livelihood Advancement of Fisher Folks (ISLA) programs; along with 35,000 Jobs for Bantay-Gubat and other DENR projects for the upland displaced workers; 36,500 jobs from the Farm-to-Market Road Projects, 81,134 from Irrigation Projects, 10,400 from Organic Fertilizer Production Project, and 3,645 from the Goat Dispersal Project all of the Department of Agriculture; 27,222 jobs from the Out-of-School Youth (OYSTER) Program –Roadside Maintenance along with 506,082 other jobs from the Department of Public Works and Highways; 100,000 jobs from the Repair of Classrooms and School Buildings of the Department of Education and State Universities and Colleges (SUCs); and 1,022 jobs from the Laguna Water Lily Development of the Department of Trade and Industry.

On top of the government job targets, the sectors also supported the creation of some 80,000 to 100,000 job opportunities among the member firms of the crucial Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) and other jobs expected to be created in industries of the country which remain buoyant, like food manufacturing, tourism, pharmaceuticals, and healthcare.

Along with local jobs, they also backed the DOLE’s efforts, hand-in-hand with the country’s recruitment, manning industry and trade unions, to fill up 400,000 opportunities based on the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration’s (POEA) registered active job orders from abroad.

The 3+ social partners also jointly supported the fast and efficient access of displaced workers to local government unit (LGU)-based One-Stop Worker Assistance Centers in strategic municipalities/cities as well as in the Philippine Export Zone Authority (PEZA), alongside the vigorous pursuit of public-private sector partnerships to facilitate placement/training and retooling of affected workers.

Roque, in particular, thanked some 138 top labor, business, government and other leaders who converged in the successful summit in Malacañang, for affirming their support as one to the country’s efforts against the global crisis -- including the representatives of more than 20 major labor groups, local and foreign business chambers, top corporations and banks, the academe, along with the country’s legislative branch, key officials of various Departments and agencies, other sectors.

They included Federation of Free Workers national president Attorney Allan S. Montaño, Tony Asper and other key FFW labor leaders; Trade Union Congress of the Philippines-AWATU national president Temistocles Dejon, Jr. and other key TUCP labor leaders; Associated and Marine Officers’ and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP) president Gregorio Oca, Jr.; Trade Union of the Philippines and Allied Services (TUPAS) secretary general Vladimir R. Tupaz, National Labor Union (NLU) president Dave Diwa, Philippine Government Employees Association (PGEA) president Esperanza A. Ocampo; Congressman Magtanggol Gunigundo who is the Chair of the House Committee on Labor; Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc. president John K. Tan and other FFCCCII officials; Employers Confederation of the Philippines chair Attorney Miguel B. Varela, ECOP president Edgardo Lacson, ECOP/ASPROE governor Rene E. Cristobal and other key leaders of both the ECOP and Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (PCCI); key representatives of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (AMCHAM); Japanese Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines president Toshifumi Inami; key representatives of the Korean Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines; Indian Chamber of Commerce president Ram Sitaldas; key persons from the Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI); top corporate leaders from the SM Shoemart, San Miguel Corporation (SMC); Yazaki-Torres Manufacturing; EEI Corporation; Land Bank of the Philippines, Banco De Oro, Bank of the Philippine Islands, the Development Bank of the Philippines, Philippine National Bank; academic leaders from schools such as De La Salle University (DLSU), Far Eastern University (FEU), and Centro Escolar University (CEU); key government officials representing major government Departments and agencies; and others.

Asia-Pacific’s Responses To Global Economic Crisis To Be Discussed At High Level Forum In Manila

MANILA-- Ministers of labor and finance, senior UN and government officials, workers and employers representatives from throughout Asia and the Pacific are due to meet in Manila next week to discuss responses to the current economic crisis.

More than 11 countries are expected to attend the regional forum, entitled “Responding to the Economic Crisis - Coherent Policies for Growth, Employment and Decent Work in Asia and the Pacific”.

Other senior officials expected to attend include Mr. Jomo Kwame Sundaram, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, and Ms. Ursula Schaefer-Preuss, Vice-President, Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development, Asian Development Bank.

To assist discussions at the forum, a report, “The fallout in Asia: Assessing labor market impacts and national policy responses to the global financial crisis,” has been compiled by the ILO’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.

This forum is one of a series of similar regional events that will feed into a high level meeting on the economic crisis called by the ILO’s Governing Body, which will take place in Geneva on March 23.

The High-level Regional Forum is being convened by the ILO in collaboration with the Asian Development Bank and the Department of Labor and Employment of the Philippines, with financial support from the Government of Norway.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Davao Economy discussed in media forum

Regional Director Lourdes Lim (center) of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Regional Office XI announced the good performance of Davao Region’s key sectors. She cited the increased production of some major crops, a 30-percent rise in exports, an 11-percent improvement in tourism, the high level of investments and the completion of some P1.1 billion worth of development projects as among the region’s top accomplishments.

Director Lim said that despite the expected impact of the global financial crisis on vital industries, she remains optimistic that the region will fare well this year given the strong performance of the above sectors. Moreover, she said the region’s exports, which are mostly agricultural commodities will not be vulnerable to the economic slowdown.

On top of this is government’s implementation of contingency measures, together with the private sector, to avert the negative effects of the crisis. According to Director Lim, prospects for the region’s economy this year remains upbeat with the expected stable export performance, vibrant tourism activities and strong investments in mining, manufacturing, property development and socialized housing.

Director Lim spoke at the Kapihan sa PIA, a weekly media forum wherein guests tackle current issues and events.

REYES URGES SWITCH TO E10 GASOLINE AS OIL FIRMS INCREASE PRODUCTION

2nd Anniversary of Biofuels Law


The energy sector marked the second anniversary of the passage of the 2006 Biofuels Act (Republic Act 9367) yesterday with a nationwide expansion in the mandate and distribution of gasoline with 10% bioethanol blend (E10) for motor vehicles.

Department of Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes hailed this development as a boost to the economy and big step toward increasing energy independence and reducing carbon emissions.

"The Bioethanol Program is designed to reduce the country's dependence on costly imported fuel and to assist in creating a new domestic fuel industry," he said. "The production and use of bioethanol can indirectly serve a variety of needs. On a national level, bioethanol can improve balance of payments by displacing imported petroleum with domestically produced fuel. This may also provide increased rural employment and alternative markets for agricultural commodities."

RA 9367 mandates the blending of biodiesel and bioethanol in diesel and gasoline fuels, respectively, in all fueling stations nationwide. The law also institutionalizes incentives and other benefits for investments.

The Bioethanol Program was launched on a voluntary basis in May 2005. Starting yesterday, it became mandatory for oil companies to have a total of 5% of their total sales coming from ethanol. This would result in the displacement of some 208 million liters of gasoline.

Chevron, Eastern Petroleum Corporation, Flying V, Petron, PTT, Shell, Seaoil, Total, and Unioil affirmed their commitment to this provision of the Biofuels Law. By expanding the production and marketing of E10, the oil firms are fulfilling the terms of this commitment.
The oil companies gave the assurance that their respective E10 brands all meet the Philippine National Standards (PNS). E10 will be offered across all ratings, such as E10 Octane 93 or E10 Octane 95.

According to the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines (CAMPI) and the Philippine Automotive Federation, Inc. (PAFI), E10 can be used to power all fuel-injected engines, particularly in vehicles manufactured after 1999. Among the car brands that have endorsed the use of E10 are Chevrolet, Honda, Hyundai, Isuzu, Kia, Mitsubishi, Nissan, PGA Cars (importers of Audi and Porsche), Suzuki, Toyota, and Volvo.
Reyes urged the motoring public to switch to E10. "E10 improves the combustion efficiency of gasoline because of the oxygenates that are inherent to bioethanol," he said. This will translate to better performance, reduced carbon monoxide and unburned hydrocarbon emissions which, in most cases, would improve fuel economy."

He also cited immense benefits to the environment, accruing from wider use of E10. Aside from being biodegradable, bioethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions because it burns more efficiently, thus significantly reducing unburned carbons.

According to the DOE, blending serves two purposes: (1) it extends gasoline supplies, and (2) as an octane enhancer, it replaces metallic-based additives. Bioethanol has a cleansing effect that removes rust and other unwanted contaminants that may have accumulated in the tank and fuel system over the years.

Consequently, E10 is known to provide high octane rating at low cost as an alternative to harmful fuel additives. E10 has the added advantage of high volumetric efficiency; it burns cooler than straight gasoline, helping to keep valves cool and thus contributing to increased power.

CAMPI and PAFI advised owners of older-model cars to consult accredited service shops if they want to fill up with E10.
Bioethanol was one of the first fuels used in automobile engines. It was used extensively in Germany during World War II and also in Brazil, the Philippines, and the United States. During the postwar period, as petroleum supplies became cheap and abundant, gasoline largely replaced bioethanol as an automotive fuel. In the 1970s, when the supply of oil was restricted, bioethanol re-emerged as an alternative to or extender for petroleum-based liquid fuels.

Noli's Waterloo

Ducky Paredes
Columns from Malaya and Abante - Edition 2009
Noli's Waterloo: Celso

"Noli De Castro admits that Delos Angeles financed his 2004 vice presidential campaign, caused the printing of his campaign materials, and even bought a tabloid to sell Vice President De Castro to voters."
by Ducky Paredes
Can Vice President Noli de Castro's friends in the Senate (where he was part of an influential group of senators before the 2004 elections) keep his name out of the Legacy scandal? He has clear ties to Sto. Domingo, Albay Mayor Celso de los Angeles, the owner and operator of the bankrupt Legacy Group of Companies.
Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos lost hard-earned money in Legacy's fraudulent investment firm and rural banks. Can they actually forgive Noli De Castro's role in their worst ever experience? These people lost their life savings to someone who campaigned for Noli and was rewarded with a high post in Noli's housing programs.
Of course, the Vice President is now distancing himself from Delos Angeles after the latter's grilling by the Senate for the questionable operations of the Legacy group and his companies' investigation by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Securities and Exchange Commission. But no matter how De Castro disowns Delos Angeles, the damage to his squeaky-clean image has been done.
Noli De Castro admits that Delos Angeles financed his 2004 vice presidential campaign, caused the printing of his campaign materials, and even bought a tabloid to help sell Vice President De Castro to voters.
So, immediately after De Castro assumed the vice presidency, he promptly endorsed Delos Angeles as head of the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC).
By paying a political debt to Delos Angeles, De Castro not only epitomized everything despicable about traditional politics; De Castro also helped Delos Angeles lure more unsuspecting investors and depositors into putting their money into Legacy.
How does the Vice President connect to the Legacy mess by his acceptance of the 2004 election funding from Delos Angeles and his endorsement of the businessman to NHMFC?
Simple. When De Castro endorsed Delos Angeles, he vouched for the latter's integrity, leading people to conclude that Delos Angeles and his Legacy Group must be clean for having been given a seal of approval by De Castro, no matter how indirectly.
In fact, although Noli had no qualms dropping Delos Angeles like a hot potato, it may not have been because of complaints to Gloria Arroyo that Celso was the worst thing to happen to her housing program, we hear that the two friends had already reached a state of enmity over a pretty young thing. Of course, the TV talent chose the more powerful of the two (and refused to return the jewelry that the other gave her as gifts.
How ironic that they were both working in the Pag-ibig program. Ang pag-ibig nga naman!
With the discovery of the dubious operations of the Legacy Group, shouldn't the Senate do what it should have done a long time ago — investigate Delos Angeles' stint as head of NHMFC to uncover possible anomalies. In fact, isn't it about time that they take a hard look at their former colleague's work at Pag-Ibig and the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council?
Are they afraid that they may find that the foundation of our Housing Program is infested with anay like Celso and other Noli friends?

Outsourcing Industry Offers Career Opportunities for Laid-Off Employees

Retraining helps facilitate a successful career shift—ExcelAsia

(Manila, Philippines, February 9, 2009) – Despite increased company retrenchments, the outsourcing sector remains strong and can potentially help laid-off workers find new employment opportunities despite the global economic crisis. ExcelAsia President Rita Trillo-Ugarte explains a different industry background is not a hindrance to beginning a career in business process outsourcing (BPO).

ExcelAsia, a full-service human resource solutions company, is currently experiencing an increase in workforce demands among their outsourcing clients. Existing partnerships are being renewed and new clients are expected to relocate in the country. This resulted in new ExcelAsia sites in Sta. Rosa and soon in Eastwood, in addition to its existing sites in Makati, Alabang, Cebu, and Bacolod.

“Voice positions remain the bulk of vacancies we are filling up but we are starting to get an increasing number of manpower requests for back-office positions too,” Trillo-Ugarte said. “These include accounting and finance practitioners, graphic designers, and bilingual candidates, to name a few.”

As a full-service human resource solutions company, ExcelAsia conducts free training for applicants tagged as near-hires to prepare them for an outsourcing career. ExcelAsia’s training curriculum is duly recognized and facilitated in partnership with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and usually runs for two or more weeks, depending on the trainees’ readiness for client endorsement.

“ExcelAsia is in need of almost 4,000 jobseekers a month for our clients, who all seem to be ramping up and expanding despite the crisis,” Trillo-Ugarte said. “We expect more and more companies to outsource their service-oriented businesses to BPOs in the Philippines.”

ExcelAsia has an 85% hiring rate for trainees who finish their comprehensive training program, which consists of Basic Communication and Comprehension Skills as well as Customer Service 101. ExcelAsia currently has a roster of over 50 local and global clients from various industries.

“Individuals with export, retail, or electronics industry backgrounds will fit into most of our clients’ needs,” Trillo-Ugarte said. “They can handle a huge variety of accounts since some clients require IT experience, while some require sales or retail background. For example, workers from the export industry can capitalize on the work experience they gained in terms of liaising with offshore clients and supervising quality control.”

Chiz: BSP can't use non-passing of charter bill as excuse for failure to act on rural bank woes

Opposition Senator Chiz Escudero said the Central Bank Act (RA 7653) is more than sufficient for the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to exercise its supervisory functions and monetary policy over illiquid banks, like those rural banks owned by the Legacy Group of Companies.

Escudero chided the BSP for rushing Congress to pass the BSP Charter Bill to strengthen its supervision over distressed banks.

The BSP on Thursday said the bill has been pending in the legislature which they claim has delayed their actions to move faster in rehabilitating ailing banks.

The senator said the BSP cannot use the non-passage of the bill as a smokescreen for their incompetence in immediately addressing the problems of the rural banks which threatens to affect confidence in other rural banks all over the country.

"BSP cannot and should not pass the buck to Congress in their inability to do their job. They have been given unhampered powers of supervision and examination that the courts cannot even enjoin, unless bond is filed in the court where the case is pending," said Escudero, who is chair of the committee on banks, financial institutions, and currencies.

The Central Bank has already closed 13 rural banks of the Legacy Group since 2008 and these have been placed under receivership.

BSP said it was hampered to close down these banks even when they were already on the verge of insolvency and bankruptcy early in 2008 because the troubled banks secured a temporary restraining order from a Manila Regional Trial Court.

"That may be a factor why the BSP was not able to act swiftly on these banks to protect the public, but definitely not the law or the absence of the proposed amendatory bill," Escudero said.

The senator said BSP should stop blaming other parties for their failure to implement their mandate to protect the public.

He said Sections 29 and 30 of the RA 7653 allows the BSP to appoint a conservator and consequently cause receivership and liquidation if upon examination a bank is already having liquidity problem.

Jinggoy says Senate ready to arrest Hanjin prexy

Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada said that the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development will not hesitate to issue an arrest order if Hanjin Heavy Industries Corp. - Philippines (HHIC) president Jeong Sup Shim would not attend the public hearing on Wednesday.

This was disclosed by Estrada, who also chairs the Congressional Oversight Committee on Labor and Employment, in the maiden broadcast of his radio program, Boses ng Masa, aired at DZRH nationwide every Friday from 5:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

“Hindi pupwede iyon. Pag hindi siya pumunta sa aming hearing on Wednesday, ipaparesto namin siya. Nakita ko ung president nila sa Subic, ‘I told him see you on Wednesday,’ and he replied, ‘Yes sir,’” Estrada said.

Estrada, in his on-site inspection on Hanjin shipyard last Thursday, February 5, identified some safety and employment concerns of the laborers after he personally persuaded them to speak up on their working condition.

“Yung mga trabahador ng Hanjin, natatakot mawalan ng trabaho kaya ayaw mag salita. Kailangan pa naming silang lapitan at sabihan na wala silang dapat ikatakot para malaman ang totoo nilang estado sa Hanjin shipyard. Nakita namin ung isang South Korean supervisor nila, kapag lumalapit kami sa mga tauhan nila, sinesenyasan na lumayo sa amin.” Estrada shared.

Among his observations were:

Only two doctors (one general practitioner, one dentist) are on duty daily, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. After 5:00 p.m. shift, no doctor is in the clinic.
Not all workers wear their helmets while at work.
Some workers wear dilapidated shoes. The senator even saw ones who wear “safety shoes” only banded together with green electrical tape.
Some workers complain they do not have insurance.
Some canals are left open.
Workers complain they work even on Sundays, without proper compensation. Others say they are underpaid, receiving only Php 303, instead of the minimum of the Php 310 wage rate.

“All of these allegations from their workers demand explanation from Hanjin officials. These are very serious charges, some even violating the Labor Code,” Estrada asserted.

Estrada conducted the on-site inspection after the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and regional safety inspectors disclosed that they were barred from entering the premises of Hanjin shipyard that effectively preventing them from performing their inspection.

Gov’t holds summit to preserve jobs, help business cope with crisis

To help workers remain on their jobs, Malacañang will hold a multi-sectoral summit on Monday (Feb. 9) aimed at saving jobs by helping industries cope with the impact of the global economic crisis, the Department of Labor and Employmentsaid.

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque said the multi-sectoral summit on “Joining Hands Against The Global Crisis”, is an initiative of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as part of the government’s efforts to minimize job losses and keep industries afloat amidst the onslaught of the global crisis.

Roque said the President ordered the DOLE and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to organize the summit following a recent multi-sectoral conference of labor, management, and other stakeholders that also tackled measures aimed at mitigating the impact of the global crisis on local and overseas Filipino workers.

He said the government is exhausting all means to preserve the workers’ jobs as this would sustain demand, which is essential in enabling industries cope with the crisis.

He pointed out, however, that it is also necessary to ensure an environment that sustains and even allows business growth to enable the economy to preserve and also generate employment.

The multi-sectoral summit to be held at Heroes Hall, of Malacañan Palace will bring together top leaders of the business sector, labor groups, church, academe, and government and non-government organizations in the national efforts to identify the necessary safety nets that would help vulnerable workers and industries cope with the current economic downturn.

He said about 200 summit participants will join hands in harmonizing government and private sector responses to the needs of workers and industries that are affected by the crisis.

The main objective, he said, is to enable industries survive the crisis’ adverse effects to preserve existing jobs and also generate employment for workers who have already been displaced.

Specifically, Roque said the stakeholders will sign a Joint Communique affirming their commitments to support programs intended for jobs preservation and generation and also the provision of safety nets to workers and industries affected by the economic crunch.

The Communique to be presented to the President would boost the efforts to facilitate the reemployment and the provision of other forms of assistance to the displaced workers, Roque said

Laudable 1622: Unang Usbor To Have Concert

Lipa City—On the eve of its first major appearance outside of Romblon, the regional indigenous band 1622:Unang Usbor has gained another prominent adherent in the person of Romblon representative Eleandro Jesus Fabic Madrona, who yesterday lauded the band for its trailblazing efforts in propagating the Asi culture.

“I appreciate and support the efforts of individuals and non-government organizations in Romblon, such as the Kusog Sibalenhon, the Asi Studies Center for Culture and Arts, and many other cultural groups to revive, to promote and to propagate our indigenous cultures and traditions as a people,” Madrona said during a telephone interview.

“This means our future direction as a province is assured, as it is strongly moored on our knowledge of our historical past and cultural legacy,” he added.

1622:Unang Usbor will perform in a concert, “Higugmaang Rayab-Rayab: An Evening of Asi Music with the 1622: Unang Usbor Band” at the CAP Auditorium along the national highway in Lipa City starting at 8:00 P.M. on Sunday, 15 February 2009.

The concert is organized by Kusog Sibalenhon, Inc., a Lipa City-based non-government organization, in cooperation with the Asi Studies Center for Culture and the Arts (ASCCA), a Banton-based cultural organization, Kapisanang Banto-anon in Lipa (KABALI), the Banto-anons’ largest organization in Lipa, and the Sibale Academy Alumni Association.

The concert, the first for 1622: Unang Usbor, is expected to be the biggest social and cultural event for Romblomanons in this bustling commercial and industrial enclave where there is a growing community of Banto-anons, Simaranhons, Sibalenhons and other ethnic Romblomanons.

1622: Unang Usbor is a Banton, Romblon-based musical group that has been drawing crowds for its artistic rendition of traditional Asi music. Its repertoire is completely in Asi, an ethnic language spoken by the Asi peoples who occupy five Romblon municipalities—Banton, Sibale, Simara, Calatrava and Odiongan, the province’s commercial capital.

Madrona, who chairs the House of Representatives’ Committee on Ethics, is an Asi and speaks the language fluently. He said he will be at the concert to demonstrate his support.
Famous musical artist Joey Ayala has observed that 1622: Unang Usbor’s music has a unique bend, after he listened to some of the band’s original compositions, notably Martir, Unang Usbor and Kuto't Baylehan.
Formed in 2007, the group is composed of Logie Jake Faigao (lead guitar/lead vocals); Bong Faigao (bass guitar); Danica Grandias (lead vocals); Tupi Fedelin (rhythm guitar/keyboard); Archie Miele Faigao (drums); Aldrin Butch Paz (rhythm guitar and sound technician); and Ronron Fabillar (back-up vocals).

Supporters who have expressed interest to provide support to the 1622: Unang Usbor’s first appearance in Lipa are Eutiquio Famatigan, George Famadico, Nico Fababaeir—all Banto-anon leaders who have made names in Lipa City. Lyndon Fadri, one of Banton’s leading cultural warriors, is also supporting the band’s appearance in Lipa.

Romblon Vice Governor Alice Fetalvero, SP member Jun Irao, and Mayors Lemuel Cipriano (Sibale), Jory Faderanga (Banton), Bong Fabella (Calatrava) and Boy Firmalo (Odiongan) will be attending the concert.

Swift Hotdogs, Boysen Paints, Jetbest Multi-lines Corporation and Felgen Enterprises are the corporate sponsors of the concert.

Kusog is still accepting reservations for tickets to the concert, priced at P300, P200, and P100. For reservations, please call 556 17 62 or 0917 623 8842.

Business, gov’t commit to promote business growthto preserve, create jobs

Amidst the global economic downturn, the business sector and government along with other stakeholders committed to intently pursue concrete and workable solutions aimed at providing an environment that sustains business viability and growth in order to strengthen the economy’s capacity to preserve and generate jobs and provide support to affected workers, Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque said.

Roque said the social partners and stakeholders representing business, academe, church, non-government and government organizations signed a Communique expressing their commitment to cooperate and support business growth as a measure in helping workers and industries cope
with the global crisis at the multi-sectoral summit held in Malacañang, Monday (Feb. 9).

He said President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo initiated the summit, dubbed “Joining Hands Against the Global Crisis,” to strengthen the country’s resiliency and preparedness to cope with the economic downturn by ensuring the viability and growth of business.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Trade and Industry (DTI) jointly organized the summit held at the Heroes Hall, Malacañan Palace.

The DOLE Chief said the multi-sectoral summit was part of the government’s efforts to preserve and generate jobs and provide safety nets to affected workers and industries.

He said the social partners believed that the current crisis could still provide new opportunities for investment areas that would be necessary in employment preservation and generation.

He hailed the social partners for agreeing to support efforts aimed at ensuring an environment that would promote business growth as this would, in turn, save and generate jobs as well as provide safety nets to Filipino workers affected by the crisis.

In this Communique, he said, the partners specified their support to efforts that would reduce the cost of doing business by, among others, automation of import/export processing and payment, reduction in the costs of business licenses and permits, and relaxation of criteria for extension of income tax holiday.

The social partners also called for policies that would improve marketing of products especially in the herbal and health and wellness industry and other sectors which are expected to grow despite the crisis.

Roque said the government is ready to provide assistance on research and development to improve marketing of local products adding the effort would certainly boost employment generation.

The social partners, he added, likewise sought policies that would curb smuggling and at the same time ease access to credit and provide tax breaks and incentives to business particularly industries that have been affected adversely by the global financial crisis.

He said providing tax breaks to distressed firms would help industry preserve jobs while at the same time providing these firms the needed capital for them to surmount the difficulties brought about by the crisis, thereby, boosting efforts to sustain demand and the economy as a whole.

Monday, February 09, 2009

JOINING HANDS AGAINST THE GLOBAL CRISIS

JOINING HANDS AGAINST THE GLOBAL CRISIS

Malacañan Palace, Manila
09 February 2009


Communiqué

Preamble

We, stakeholders representing the business sector, labor (formal and informal sectors), the academe, church-based groups, non-government organizations, and government, believe in the resiliency of the Filipino, the excellence of our workers, and the economic dynamism that has propelled the country to unparalleled fiscal stability amid global challenges.

We convene at the Heroes’ Hall, Malacañan, Manila on 09 February 2009 to signify our collective resolve to join hands to address the adverse effects of the crisis, as advocates of hope and national unity, through concrete steps and institutional partnerships at the national and community levels.

We call on the Filipino people to unite behind efforts and initiatives to promote business viability and growth, preserve and create jobs, and provide support for affected domestic and overseas workers.

In this spirit, we join hands against the global financial crisis and commit to:


Support for Business Growth

1. We support efforts to reduce the cost of doing business through:

· Government to continue its efforts to bring down the cost of power

· Mandatory implementation of automated import/export processing including electronic processing of payments

· Acceleration of BOC computerization (liquidation module)

· Faster transaction for import permits for non-PEZA registered firms

· Relaxation of criteria for extension of income tax holiday

· Explore the possibility of suspending tariff reduction for 5 years or one product cycle

· Provision of subsidy for fuel of bus transport to and from the work place

· Lowering the costs of business licenses and permits

· Review of revenue regulations on allowable tax deductions like expenses for trainings and research

· Promote best practices among local governments on how to cut steps in the acquisition of business permits and other relevant procedures

· Strict enforcement of existing government regulations such as EO 45 regarding timeframes for approval of applications and the release of required clearances, permits, and licenses

2. We call for policies to improve marketing of products

· Provision of government assistance on research and development, and packaging (tax incentives, compliance to standards), particularly for the Herbal and Health and Wellness Industry

· Consumer advocacy groups to advocate for “Buy Filipino Products” here and abroad

· DFA and DTI to optimize economic diplomacy to promote Philippine products, preserve existing markets and search for viable opportunities to link local suppliers with global markets

3. We will extend comprehensive package of assistance to emerging industries and Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs)

· DTI One-Town-One-Product (OTOP)

· Landbank of the Philippines [LBP] and the Development Bank of the Philippines [DBP] Technical Assistance on Entrepreneurial Skills using its Development and Business Assistance Centers nationwide

· Work with government television and radio stations to promote MSMEs and OTOP

· DoT to integrate MSMEs and OTOP in its domestic tourism programs as a way to showcase indigenous products and local traditions

· DOLE, DENR and DOE to pursue initiatives supportive of creating and sustaining Green Collar Jobs


4. We call for intensified efforts to curb all forms of smuggling with the private sector as integral partner in the implementation of measures,

· Strengthen operations of the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group

· Stronger enforcement of EO 156 and RA 8506 on the entry of 2nd hand cars.

5. We support the credit enhancement of borrowers in terms of credit guarantee from the Philippine Export- Import Credit Agency and the Small Business Corporation. We call for the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas [BSP] to provide incentives to participating banks providing credit to the sectors affected by the crisis.

6. We recommend the representation of the export community and overseas service providers to the Philippine Export-Import Credit Board.

7. We pursue policies toward providing tax breaks and incentives to business, through administrative action for the waiver of liquidation requirements for imported materials of export products sold in DTI-sponsored trade fairs (for cancelled orders)

8. We support initiatives to promote and encourage corporate social responsibility (CSR) among firms


Support to Workers’ Safety Nets

1. We commit support for livelihood projects to provide income to workers through new allocation of:

· PhP 1 Billion under the “LBP Negosyo Program for Global Financial Crisis Affected Workers” and the DBP Livelihood Program

· PhP 1 Billion Loan Portfolio under the OWWA Filipino Expatriate Livelihood Support Fund (FELSF)

· PhP 1.38 Billion under the DENR Livelihood Investment in support for displaced workers in the uplands

· PhP 3.5 Million under the DOE Micro-Finance for the Transport Sector

· Php 402 Million under the DOLE Integrated Livelihood Program

· Php 50 Million for the DOLE’s Reintegration Program

2. We support the allocation of at least 1.5% of the 2009 operating budget of government agencies solely for the temporary hiring of displaced workers and their dependents for projects such as Green Collar Jobs, reforestation and NARS.

3. We support the creation of emergency employment opportunities through government pump-priming projects, particularly

35,000 Jobs for Bantay-Gubat and other DENR projects for the upland displaced workers
36,500 Jobs from Farm-to-Market Road Projects of DA
81,134 Jobs from Irrigation Projects of DA
10,400 Jobs from Organic Fertilizer Production Project of DA
3,645 Jobs from Goat Dispersal Project of DA
27,222 Jobs from Out-of-School Youth (OYSTER) Program – Roadside Maintenance of DPWH
23,550 Jobs from TUPAD and ISLA Programs of DOLE
1,022 Jobs from Laguna Water Lily Development of DTI
506,082 Jobs from DPWH
100,000 Jobs from the Repair of Classrooms and Schoolbuildings of DepEd and SUCs

4. We support the creation of employment opportunities, in particular the projected 80,000 to 100,000 jobs among member-firms of the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) and other jobs that will be created in other buoyant industries like food manufacturing, tourism, pharmaceuticals, and the healthcare industry.

5. We support the efforts of the recruitment, manning industry and trade unions to fill up 400,000 overseas jobs based on POEA registered active job orders of accredited principals and local agencies through government-private sector partnership on strategic skills training, upgrading and ethical recruitment practices to address the problem of job-skills mismatch and the conduct of jobs fairs to facilitate access to job vacancies.

6. We support fast and efficient access of displaced workers to services through the LGU-based one-stop worker assistance centers and in municipalities/cities severely affected by the crisis, initially in Calamba, Laguna; Rosario, Cavite; Angeles City, Pampanga; and Cebu City to house all government services such as:

ü Profiling of displaced workers and dependents
ü Issuance of certificate of eligibility for all assistance packages
ü Information on all assistance packages for displaced workers
ü Information on job vacancies
ü Job-matching/placement
ü Livelihood assistance
ü Training and scholarship vouchers
ü Issuance of pre-employment documents

7. We support fast and efficient access of displaced workers to services through PEZA among firms based in PEZA zones one-stop worker assistance centers such as:

ü Profiling of displaced workers and dependents
ü Issuance of certificate of eligibility for all assistance packages
ü Information on all assistance packages for displaced workers
ü Information on job vacancies
ü Job-matching/placement
ü Livelihood assistance
ü Training and scholarship vouchers
ü Issuance of pre-employment documents

8. We pursue public-private partnerships to facilitate job placement/training and retooling of affected workers

· People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP) and the PESOPHIL Federation to assist DOLE in profiling displaced workers and identifying job vacancies where they may be re-employed

· DOLE in consultation with industry and business groups to undertake manpower planning

· Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII), Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), Philippine Association of Service Contractors (PALSCON), Local and Foreign Chambers, Local and Overseas Recruitment Agencies to assist DOLE in information dissemination on assistance packages and in job placement

· Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), Federation of Free Workers (FFW) and other trade unions, organizations for migrant labor, seafarers, the CBCP-Caritas Filipinas Foundation, Inc., and other church-based groups, Blas F. Ople Policy Center, and non-government organizations, to act as conduits of government for information dissemination on assistance packages, and for training, retooling and livelihood projects

· Technological Resource Center (TRC) to assist the DOLE National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO) in training or retooling of displaced overseas Filipino workers

· PMAP and other organizations with electronic job-matching facilities to link up with DOLE Registry of Displaced Workers and their dependents

· DOLE to facilitate private-sector led marketing missions especially in countries where Philippines has bilateral agreements and in pioneer countries of work opportunities.

9. We commit to assist in sustaining quality education/training of affected workers and their dependents

· TESDA to provide displaced workers:

ü Massive training in communities
ü Enterprise-based group training for work with industries/ sectors/associations and other bodies for sectoral skills demand
ü Free skills assessment and certification
ü Free workplace language skills proficiency assessment
ü Scholarships for the Ladderized Education Program
ü On-Site Scholarships for OFWs
ü Training of TVET Trainers

· DOLE to prioritize children of displaced workers as SPES beneficiaries

· CHED to strengthen interventions on faculty training toward quality education

· PMAP to promote employment among member firms of students who are children of displaced workers during summer or school breaks

· SSS to employ children of displaced workers for summer jobs under its Mitigation Plan for Displaced SSS Members, both OFWs or local workers

· OWWA to expand Scholarships for dependents of displaced overseas Filipino workers

· OWWA to strengthen and expand its free computer literacy programs for OFWs and their families through its TULAY Program in partnership with Microsoft and the Blas F. Ople Policy Center

· DBP to expand its Endowment Education Program for dependents of displaced workers

· DOLE and DOH to implement the Nurses Assigned in Rural Services (NARS) Program aimed at increasing employability of unemployed registered nurses, through training and development in government health facilities in rural areas and undeserved communities, towards the improvement of local health care delivery systems and the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG)


10. We support continued access of affected workers and their dependents to health services

· PHILHEALTH to extend validity of health insurance coverage to displaced workers, from the present three months to one-year from termination, without requiring additional premium

· Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities (PACU) to extend free medical and dental services to affected workers under its integrated medical mission

· DSWD, DOLE, PMAP and concerned LGUs to provide free psycho-social counselling for workers coping with job loss

11. We support assistance to affected workers with financial obligations

· SSS, GSIS and Pag-Ibig Fund to grant loan restructuring, extension of condonation of penalties and surcharges

· SSS and GSIS to provide education loan assistance to dependents of displaced members

· OWWA to provide transition subsidies to affected members who enlist for livelihood assistance or job placement service based on a criteria to be decided by its Governing Board;

· POEA to prioritize the deployment of displaced OFWs with pending financial obligations due to unfinished work contracts in its government placement programs.

12. We commit to a nationwide campaign against illegal recruiters and human traffickers who prey on displaced and unemployed workers

· LGUS and the DILG to work closely with the POEA and partner-NGOs on an intensified campaign against illegal recruitment and human trafficking

· Strengthening of the Inter-Agency Council Against Human Trafficking through legislation and budgetary support

13. We commit to the promotion of decent work and preservation of jobs amid a global financial crisis

· DoLE to intensify its capacity-building programs for the informal sector and organized labor

· NLRC to accelerate disposition of cases while giving due attention to cases involving displacements due to the financial crisis

· For LGUs, DTI and DOLE regional offices to put up joint monitoring teams to ensure quick response and access to free legal advice and voluntary arbitration to workers affected by the global crisis particularly those who are non-union members

· For DOLE to conduct inspection visits to ensure that safety and health issues and principles of decent work are not shortchanged in the name of the financial crisis

· For DFA to instruct all posts overseas to monitor immigration and labor policies that affect migrant workers and disseminate the same to the Filipino communities while undertaking regular dialogues with OFW leaders, foreign employers, and the host government involved.


Legislative Measure

We call on Congress to support all these commitments by passing the pending Bill on the Stimulus Package.


Monitoring of Commitments

We commit to monitor the progress and implementation of these commitments through regular consultative meetings among all signatories to this Communiqué.

A Secretariat shall be established to monitor these commitments.

Signed this 9th day of February 2009 at Heroes’ Hall, Malacañan Palace, Manila, Republic of the Philippines.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Jinggoy naglatag ng mga konkretong tulong para sa mga manggagawang apektado ng resesyon

Naglatag ngayon si Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada ng mga konkretong hakbang para tulungan ang mga manggagawang Pinoy na natatanggal sa trabaho dahil sa global recession.
Isinulong ni Jinggoy ang mga rekomendasyon sa ginanap na “multi-sectoral workshop on the effects of the global economic crisis” sa Occupational Safety and Health Center sa Diliman, Quezon City.
Ang workshop ay isa ring panukala ni Jinggoy, na agad namang inorganisa ng Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) upang makabalangkas ng “action plans” sa harap ng malawakang pagkatanggal sa trabaho ng maraming Pinoy workers sa loob at labas ng bansa.
“Sa workshop na ito ay masusuri natin ang epekto ng global economic crisis sa ating mga manggagawa at kabuuang ekonomiya, upang maging gabay sa pagbalangkas natin ng kaukulang solusyon,” ayon kay Estrada, chairman ng Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development, at ng joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Labor and Employment (COCLE).
“Dahil din sa kabigatan ng problemang ito at sa pangangailangan ng mabilisang aksyon ay inilalatag na agad natin ang ilang konkretong hakbang na pwedeng i-adopt sa workshop at agad na ring ipatupad,” dagdag ng senador.
Ilan sa mga rekomendasyon ni Estrada ay ang mga sumusunod:
  • Paglalaan ng pamahalaan ng “special package of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives”o kalipunan ng mga insentibo para sa mga kumpanyang magbibigay ng retraining at panibagong trabaho sa mga na-layoff na manggagawa; at,
  • Implementasyon ng “barangay-based retraining and hiring program” sa mga kumpanyang tinutulungan ng pamahalaan sa ilalim ng Barangay Micro Business Enterprise (BMBE) law (Republic Act 9178) upang magbigay ng pagsasanay at alternatibong hanapbuhay sa mga apektadong manggagawa.
Pinapurihan ni Estrada si Labor Secretary Marianito Roque sa pagtugon nito at pag-organisa ng kanyang panukalang workshop, at sa pagsusulong ng kanyang mungkahing “special incentives package” sa pamamagitan ng pakikipagkasundo ng DoLE sa Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FFCCCII) para muling i-empleyo ang mga na-layoff na manggagawa mula sa ibat-ibang kumpanya.

Stories on OFWs from the University of San Francisco

Shadowy Trails: Stories of the Undocumented
by Cher Jimenez

SAN FRANCISCO — His voice reverberates in a downtown San Francisco train station as
passersby, residents and visitors make their way to the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART),
the city’s main subway system.
Train-goers from all over the world hear exceptional music as Ruben Kalinga sings
Tagalog songs from way back. Many Filipino commuters and foreign travelers drop coins
and sometimes one-dollar bills into the neongreen plastic box Kalinga has kept for months,
ever since he decided to pursue a long-time dream.
With a guitar and a harmonica, Kalinga sings rock ‘n’roll and occasionally sits down to
croon country and folk songs to the delight of his Western audience.
The 50-year-old former merchant seaman is no stranger at BART stations.
Every day, he lugs his musical instruments and performs for hours, most of the
time without food, unless he decides to take a short break.
But unlike other Filipinos who are illegally staying in the United States, Kalinga is
not in hiding. In fact, despite his illegal status, he exposes himself by performing almost
daily in parts of San Francisco where police, tourists, and locals pass by. He also insists that
his real name be mentioned in this story.
“They know who are illegal here, but I’m not afraid. I know they won’t deport me. You
can’t call me TNT (for the Tagalog tago nang tago or “always in hiding”) because I’m not
hiding,” he says with confidence.
Kalinga can afford to be nonchalant.
San Francisco is one of few US cities that have remained friendly to undocumented
immigrants like him.


So This is Home for Soma’s Pinoys
by Christian Esguerra
SAN FRANCISCO—The cramped space they call home in a five-story apartment building on Mission Street is a seeming affront to Jose “Joe” Ferrer and his roommate, Mang Aurelio Domingo.
Those who know them—at least who they used to be back in the Philippines—
know they deserve something better. Not a place like Unit 225, which they share with yet
a third occupant, a fellow Filipino surviving on financial aid from the United States
government.
Ferrer, 51, and Domingo, 65, are former professors in reputable universities in Manila,
with the older of the two having authored a college textbook. But here, they are ordinary
joes—Ferrer is a teaching assistant cum department store clerk, Domingo a security
guard—trapped in their own humble space.
Their shared apartment is more of a bodega, a pile of used clothes, seldom-used
appliances, balikbayan boxes, and an overall accumulation of American junk. There’s
very little room left for decent sleep on their old double-decker. Not to mention the gas
pipe hanging under the ceiling, a makeshift clothesline.
The rest of the Mint Mall and Hall, also known as Apartment 957, gives the general
feeling of despair—its reeking garbage depot, smelly carpeted corridors, vandalized elevator,
to name a few—for many of its roughly 500 occupants, mostly Filipinos.

Download file the whole file and other stories here

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Headstrong Philippines Jumpstart Outreach Mission


Photo shows children from the Gabay Buhay Home with the Headstrong volunteers, including Lareina Marie Yu, Maricris Chan, Michelle Timbre, Lee Malacaman, Beth Tradel, Bong Gabo, Desiree Feliciano, Bea Sumampong, Analyn Villarico, Ben Castro, Marge Morante, Jay-R Patron, Kristine Garalza, Malaine Limson, Nelza Buico, Kim Mejares, Perlito Luba, Geboy Teodoro, Agee Villanueva, and Karen Kue.


(Manila, Philippines, February 4, 2009) – Headstrong, a global IT consultancy and solutions company, formed Headstrong 2.0utreach in its Manila Global Delivery Center (MGDC) to engage its 650-strong workforce in community-conscious programs.

Headstrong 2.0utreach, formed in November 2008 by the employee engagement committee, has so far organized three internal projects that inspire employees to participate in socially responsible activities.

“We believe that it is our responsibility to help society even in our little ways. Through this outreach mission, we foster goodwill by encouraging employees to volunteer and take part in improving lives through participating or coming up with their own ideas for activities,” said Nora Terrado, Headstrong Philippines Country Manager.

Last December 2008, Headstrong invited 12 children from the Children’s Joy Foundation to sing Christmas carols in the office, as company teams and departments donated gifts and cash to the foundation.

Children’s Joy Foundation is a non-stock, non-profit, service-oriented organization that houses marginalized children under its residential care program. The foundation further provides educational assistance, healthcare, and various skills training.

Following the company’s December outreach, Headstrong employees continued the company mission on January 24 by helping out the Gabay Buhay Home. Headstrong gave items gathered from last year’s “24 to 24” drive, a month-long program that collected unused clothes, toys, books, and other items.

The Gabay Buhay Home is run by the Virlanie Foundation and is one of the largest, private, non-sectarian child-caring institutions in Metro Manila. It houses street children, runs 12 residential homes, and conducts outreach and support programs for children and their families in poor neighborhoods in the Metro.

Headstrong volunteers spent the day facilitating games and awarding prizes. The resident children in turn, displayed their artistic talents in an art competition themed “Ang Pangarap Ko,” to be judged by Headstrong employees on a later date. Some residents also performed dances and played their acoustic rendition of “This is me.”

Headstrong employees then distributed tokens and donated the collection from the 24 to 24 drive. The volunteers ended the day with a visit to another Virlanie Foundation home, giving more toys to the resident children.

“The kids really enjoyed the day and are very thankful for the donations,” said Lourdes Magdasoc, social worker for the Virlanie Foundation.

Headstrong 2.0utreach has lined up a number of activities for 2009 and beyond including visits to elderly homes and orphanages, community builds, and environment cleanup. This month, Headstrong 2.0utreach has invited Gawad Kalinga to brief Headstrong employees about Gawad Kalinga’s activities and programs.

(###)

About Headstrong
Headstrong is a global consulting firm focused on the financial services industry. With revenues exceeding $200 MM, Headstrong’s model of specialization in the financial industry has yielded sustained year-on-year growth in earnings and profitability.

Headstrong has a proven track record across Business, Domain & Technology Consulting and Outsourcing to top-tier banks. It offers product and services expertise across specific areas including Listed Derivatives, Reference Data, Wealth and Asset management and Securities Financing and Prime Brokerage.

Headstrong has development centers in India and the Philippines, and is recognized as the largest financial services consulting firm in the Philippines.

DOLE sets up Help Desks to assist displaced workers in the regions

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque said today said that Help Desks shall be set up in the regions to facilitate the delivery of assistance and services of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to workers at the regional and community level who have been displaced by the global economic crisis.

Roque said the DOLE Helps Desks for economically displaced workers (EDWs) shall be located at all regional welfare offices of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) except in the National Capital Region (NCR) where the EDWs are being served by the National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO) in Intramuros, Manila.

He said the Help Desks shall serve as a one-stop center bringing the delivery of DOLE programs and services closer to both local and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who have been adversely affected by the global crisis.

The Desks shall compose of personnel from OWWA, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Bureau of Local Employment (BLE), and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). The DOLE Regional Directors shall oversee the operationalization of the Help Desks.

These agencies, Roque said, shall provide immediate response to the EDWs’ requests for assistance adding that the agencies have been directed to ensure the availability of facilities and materials in providing the affected workers livelihood trainings and loans, job referrals to local and overseas vacancies, and legal assistance and counseling.

The OWWA Welfare Offices are in the following areas: Cordillera Administrative Region - TSS Bldg., Benitez Court Compound Magsaysay Ave., Baguio City; Region 1 – G/F Andronico G. Zambrano Bldg., San Fernando City, La Union; Region 2 – 3/F, Sychanco Bldg., Bonifacio St., Tuguegarao, Cagayan; Region 3 – 3/F FS David Bldg., Dolores H-way, San Fernando, Pampanga; Region 4-A – Penthouse 1-3, Penthouse Bldg., Chipeco Ave., Brgy. Halang, Calamba, Laguna; Region 4-B – 7/F Ben-Lor Bldg., 1184 Quezon Ave., Quezon City; Region 5 – Vista Al Mayon Compound, Washington Drive, Legaspi City;

Region 6 – Rm. 206, 2/F AJL Bldg., Gen. Luna St., Iloilo City; Region 7 – Mezzanine Flr., LDM Bldg., Legaspi St. cor Cuenco Ave., Cebu; Region 8 – Trece Martirez St., DOLE Compound, Tacloban City, Leyte;

Region 9 – 8/F BGDIC Corporate Center, Gov. Lim Ave., Zamboanga City; Region 10 – 2/F Trinidad Bldg., Corrales-Yacapin St., Cagayan de Oro; Region 11 – Doors 31 E-G, GB Cam Bldg., Monteverde St., Davao City; Region 12 – Block II, Reyes Subdvision, Brgy. Morales, Koronadal City; ARRM – 1st Door, Bansil Bldg., Sinsuat Ave., Cotabato City; CARAGA – Numfa Tiu Bldg. II, J.P. Rosales Ave, Butuan City.

For more information on the OWWA welfare offices, interested workers may contact OWWA Hotlines 833-6992, 551-6641, 551-1560, and Mobile 0917-898-6992.

Philippine central bank cuts policy rate by 50bp to 5%

What?In line with market expectations, the BSP lowered the benchmark policy ratetoday by a full 50bp. The announcement comes on the back of this morning's4Q GDP release, which showed surprising strength during the quarter of 4.5%yy after an upwardly revised 5% growth rate in the third quarter. This hadstrengthened our belief that the authorities would opt for a more measuredpace of rate cuts. Instead, the BSP brought the policy rate back down to 5%where it stood before the inflation surge in early 2008 and which at thatstage marked already a multi-year low.
In a subsequent press conference, the Deputy Governor of the BSP, stressedthat inflation pressures are easing rapidly. He also emphasized that ratecuts are aimed at encouraging bank lending in the Philippines, an integralpart of the government's strategy to bolster the economy against thegrowing global headwinds. The Deputy Governor, however, underlined thattoday's decision by the central bank was largely pre-emptive, rather thanindicative of any existing stresses on local financial conditions.
So What?We agree with the broad thrust of the central bank's assessment on growthrisks and likely inflation developments. In fact, headline CPI should comein at target both this year and next, which on the surface provides the BSPwith growing head-room to cut rates further. We had pencilled in a cyclelow to 4.5% for the benchmark policy rate and continue to stick by it, eventhough today's more aggressive action suggest some downside to our forecast. All considered, however, a more measured pace in rate cuts may beadvisable. First, remittances are likely to come under growing pressure,something that hasn't fully come the attention of financial markets yet, inour view. This, in turn, might raise risks of growing peso volatility goingforward, against which a more comfortable interest rate buffer wouldprovide useful assurance. Second, the banking system does not appear tosuffer from meaningful liquidity constraints at this stage, with banklending expanding at a healthy double digit pace and bank reserves stillbeing ample. Overall, the Philippine economy has proven remarkably robustin this current global environment, warranting a cautious approach by theBSP to further rate cuts.
Bottom line: Expect at least another 50bp in cuts in this cycle, pushingthe policy rate to historical lows. However, worries over remittances andresulting risks of exchange rate volatility warrant a more measuredapproach to further easing.

Frederic NEUMANNSenior Asia Economist
Global Banking and MarketsThe Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited
L19, HSBC Main Building, 1 Queens Road Central, Hong Kong

UBS Asian Economic Comment - Philippines: Showing resilience?

Summary
- The Philippines economy surprised positively in the final quarter of2008, growing 4.5% on the year and 1% on the quarter. Although wellbelow the trend of the last few years, this is a favourable outcome inthe face of a likely outright contraction in the global economy.
- We maintain our 1.8% real GDP growth forecast for 2009. Indeed, claimsof resilience for the economy in aggregate must be tempered by evidencewithin the detail of the national accounts. The 5% on the year Q4expansion in industrial output, for example, will be hard to sustain inthe context of a 7.5% decline in total exports and a 7.4% decline incapital investment (ex-construction and agriculture). Of note, whilethese latter figures do gel with developments elsewhere in the regionand trade data, the latest national accounts data (headline andcomponents) may be subject to revision given the large statisticaldiscrepancy reported in Q4.
- Nonetheless, consumption spending and government expenditure areshowing some resilience, growing 4.5% and 4.7% on the year respectivelyin Q4. And construction investment activity also grew strongly at 11.6%on the year. The concern relating to both residential construction andconsumption remains income (employment) growth in the Philippines andthe flow of remittance income from overseas workers. Layoffs arebecoming widespread regionally and we expect a decline in US dollarremittances during 2009. Even so, we expect real consumption growth ofaround 3% in 2009 to outperform GDP because of historic relativestability and much lower inflation during 2009 as food and energy pricesmoderate relative to 2008.
- The fact is that Q4 real GDP growth in the Philippines surprised onthe upside by growing 4.5% against a Bloomberg consensus centred on 3.5%and a government projection of 3.6-4.4%. With upside activity surprisesnot so common at present, this has to be taken positively. However, thepotential for economic weakness is still clear. We continue to expectreal GDP growth to slip below 2.0% in 2009 as highlighted in SoutheastAsian Focus: Philippines - reality check; Ed Teather; 17 November 2008.In other words, a further sharp slowdown in activity is still on thecards (witness the 32% decline in USD imports in November).
- Thus, despite Q4 resilience, we expect and believe the authoritiesshould continue to meaningfully ease both monetary and fiscal policy. Welook for policy rates to fall to at least 4.5% and for the fiscaldeficit to surpass 1.5% of GDP in 2009. The BSP's decision to lowerpolicy rates 50bps today as expected while stating that there is "roomfor further easing" is in line with this forecast.
Chart 1: Philippines real GDP forecastSource: UBS Estimates, NEDB
Chart 2: Real investment, exports and consumptionSource: UBS Estimates, NEDB
Table 1: Philippines GDP expenditure breakdown - historic data and UBSforecastsSource: NEDB, UBS Estimates

download full paper here

RECTO URGES GOVERNMENT TO RECONSIDER RATIONALIZATION PLAN

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and National Economic and DevelopmentAuthority (NEDA) Director-General Ralph G. Recto said that pushingthrough with the plan to rationalize government agencies may not bedesirable at this time in light of the global economic crisis thatcontinues to threaten job security here and abroad. He explained that whilethe country is in a better position to weather the global economic crisis,the overall economic environment is becoming more and more hostile forordinary Filipinos, as shown by the recent string of layoffs in the privatesector.

“The last thing government should do is to exacerbate the problemby laying-off some of its own workers as well,” he stressed.

Executive Order 366 called for “a strategic review of the operations andorganizations of the Executive Branch” to identify and abolish redundantand outdated positions, with the end goal of improving service delivery andproductivity. President Gloria Arroyo signed the EO in October 2004.

The Department of Budget and Management, which is the lead agency in therationalization initiative, has so far approved the rationalization plansof four departments and 11 attached agencies, 11 government-owned andcontrolled corporations and 15 entities classified as “other agencies”. Atotal of 7,898 regular positions and 1,189 contractual/casual have alreadybeen identified for abolition, representing possible savings of at leastPhP757 million pesos.

“The rationalization plan as embodied in EO 366 was conceptualized during atime when our economic situation was a lot better, when prospects werebrighter and optimism was on the rise. The plan and its drafters also hadvery good intentions. Unfortunately, our situation has changeddramatically, and we have to take these changes into account,” Recto added.

The Department of Labor and Employment said that as of January 26, 18,000workers had been retrenched while 33,000 had their working hours reduced asmore firms downscale or shut down their operations.

“It’s all a matter of timing. While we want to see changes in theorganization of some executive agencies so they can perform better,laying-off thousands of government workers during a time when the globaleconomy is slowing and private enterprises are cutting jobs runs counter toour objective of stimulating the economy,” the NEDA chief concluded.

Gov’t, 3+ Social Partners initiate multi-sectoral responses to assist workers affected by global financial crisis

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque urged the Philippines’ Three Plus (3+) Social Partners, including labor, management, government, industries, and other salient sectors, to stand together as one and enable the country to face up to and surmount the global economic crisis, even as he bared that the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has allotted some P402.852 million to urgently assist the workers displaced by the threat.

Roque, addressing the opening of the DOLE-led Multi-Sectoral Conference on the Global Financial Crisis on the theme, “Responding to the Employment Challenge,” at the Ichikawa Hall of the Occupational Safety and Health Center in Quezon City, emphasized with importance the necessity of a joint, united effort among the 3+ Social Partners in order to effect salient interventions, ensure effective assistance, and mitigate the impact of the global crisis on “every affected human being, every affected Filipino worker.”

Participating in the vital one-day workshop were more than 300 labor, management, and industry leaders, the representatives of economic and other salient government agencies, those representing the land- and sea-based sectors of the country’s vital overseas employment industry, global organizations like the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and other sectors, complemented by the top DOLE leadership and the Department’s labor and employment experts.

Roque, in convening the workshop, had commended the earlier response of the giant Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII) to the DOLE’s call to assist the affected workers, through an earlier Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that the Department and the Federation had successfully forged.

In particular, Roque thanked the country’s 3+ Tripartite Partners for their concrete responsiveness, citing their “readiness to lend support in facing a [global] challenge that is much, much bigger than ourselves.”

The Labor and Employment Chief emphasized that precisely, the DOLE initiated a Multi-Sectoral Action Workshop “for us all to come together to address and give solutions” to the common crisis they are facing.

Roque, in particular, evoked the urgency of assisting and pushing effective interventions and safety net measures, in behalf of some 33,000 affected workers who have begun to experience shorter working hours, along with the more than 40,000 workers displaced by the global economic crisis, citing the latest DOLE report.

Digressing partly from his speech, he said that there is absolutely no need to “perform magic as we have been [wrongly and unfairly] accused” as regards the accrual effects of the crisis on our workers and industries, emphasizing instead to the social partners the importance of pushing assistance for the sake of “every human being and Filipino worker” threatened by the global financial crisis.

Nonetheless, the Labor Chief emphasized that notwithstanding the global crisis, the country’s labor market has remained resilient in 2008, as employment nationwide grew by 1.6% or a net addition of 530,000 employed persons in the labor force mainly in the services, and agriculture, fishery and forestry sectors, offsetting the hard-hit industry sector which contracted by –1.5%. Despite the earlier report of the DOLE that the deployment of OFWs surged to a record 1.376 million in 2008, he nonetheless expressed concern on the latest reports that some 5,404 workers have been displaced abroad.

He said that in response to the affected workers, to-date the DOLE has now assisted a total of 4,460 affected workers as follows: 613 have been provided with emergency employment assistance, 965 with job referrals, 1,007 with legal assistance on their money claims, 422 with skills training, and 1,453 with livelihood assistance/seed capitalization.

Roque added that specifically, some 1,015 affected workers have benefited from its P402.8 million GFC assistance fund with P1.488 million benefiting 150 workers under its Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged Workers (TUPAD) Program; P7.34 million benefiting 290 workers under the DOLE

Workers Income Augmentation Program (WIN AP)/ Adjustment Measures Program (AMP) funds in Region IV-A or CALABARZON; P1.1 million benefiting 337 workers in Region VII or Central Visayas also under WIN AP; and P902,000 benefiting 238 workers in Mindanao, specifically Surigao del Sur and Zamboanga del Norte.

The Labor and Employment Chief added that the DOLE’s safety net measures and assistance package for affected workers nationwide and worldwide also encompass the following: the Integrated Services for Livelihood Advancement of Fisher Folks (ISLA) in all coastal provinces in the North Luzon Agri-business Quadrangle and Mindanao Agri-Business Quadrangle; the DOLE UNLAD or Unified Nurses Learning and Employment Project for would be overseas Filipino nurses; Training, Livelihood and Job Placement.

All these, Roque said, will be reinforced meticulously by DOLE, in cooperation with industries and pertinent sectors, with the conduct of the Skills Mapping Registry, a 24x7 dedicated GFC Hotline; the establishment of Help Desks in all Regions and Provinces around the country under the supervision of the DOLE’s GFC Special Task Force under the leadership, coordination, and supervision of DOLE Senior Officials.

Overseas, he said that on-site, the DOLE’s Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) in more than 30 strategic host destinations worldwide are tasked to undertake 24/7 monitoring, actively assist in securing benefits for displaced workers, provide job replacement and repatriation assistance.

Significantly, Roque said that amidst the continuing stream inward of numerous job orders for OFWs, he has tasked the DOLE’s Philippine Overseas Employment Administration to validate the approved job orders and facilitate private sector-led marketing missions to generate more job orders, with emphasis, particularly, on the “net job orders within the year to be able to assist and place displaced OFWs [back in productive employment].” In addition, the DOLE’s National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO)-Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), POEA, and the DOLE’s Technical Education and Skills Development Authority are ready with pertinent training, livelihood assistance, and job placement referral services for those displaced OFWs forced to return to the country.

Roque said that for the purpose of facilitating assistance to workers, the DOLE has now activated a 24/7 Global Financial Crisis (GFC) Hotline (Hotline No. [632] 527-4337) for responding to all pertinent queries from all sectors on available assistance to affected workers, alongside the ongoing interventions.

Roque told the country’s 3+ Social Partners gathered in the multi-sectoral event in response to the global financial crisis that, “what is essential is for us to be able to have an effective and vibrant working relationship despite the crisis, in order to help, mitigate the plight of, and turn around the situation in behalf of the affected workers.”

He said that in standing up as one, both the government and the various sectors of the country, especially the DOLE and the 3+ Tripartite Partners, must work together and identify the opportunities to help the workers, sustain resiliency, and maintain productivity.
In emphasizing the importance of their multi-sectoral workshop and thrusts, he said that ultimately, the workshop will enable the government and the 3+ Social Partners together, to concretely specify the commitments and timelines necessary to effect the delivery of assistance to affected workers.

“Let us work together,” the Labor Chief told the nation’s 3+ Social Partners in his address opening the event.