Working for the welfare of all workers

Posted by watchmen
May 7, 2024
Posted in Better Days, OPINION


By Sonny Angara

For the month of January 2024, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported a decrease in the number of unemployed Filipinos.

According to the PSA, there were 2.15 million unemployed Filipinos, down from the 2.38 million recorded over the same period in 2023. This is good news and a reflection of the strength of our economy. Businesses are thriving so they can afford to hire new workers.

There was also an increase in the number of new businesses, based on the data on business name registrations of the Department of Trade and Industry. For 2023, the DTI recorded an increase of five percent in new business name registrations from 2022. The data shows that many of the new registrants were small businesses, including community-based entrepreneurs.

But looking at the reports on the demand for office spaces in the Philippines, there has also been an uptick and this indicates that medium to large scale businesses are also doing well. Our IT-BPO sector continues to expand and this means that more jobs will become available for Filipinos.

There are many challenges that face our people once they enter into the workforce. Finding a job that pays well or at least, within the expectations of the applicant is one. Then there is also the lingering issue of contractualization or the lack of job security for a significant number of Filipinos. Now many of our workers also have to deal with the extreme heat that our country is experiencing and this takes a toll on everyone, no matter how physically fit you are.

There is only so much that we can do to address all of these issues but we can at least try to provide them with something that will make things easier for them while they strive to make a living. This is a big part of what we have been doing for the past 20 years as a legislator.

In my nine years as a member of the House of Representatives and now going into my 11th year as a senator, I have worked to come up with laws to improve the plight of our workers. Allow me to list some of these laws that have made an impact on a vast majority of our workers.

Enacted in 2009, Republic Act (RA) 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women addresses the wide-ranging needs and sectoral concerns of women, especially those in the marginalized sector. It concretizes women’s participation and empowerment in all aspects of the family, community and society.

Almost a decade later, RA 11210 or the 105-Day Expanded Maternity Leave Law was enacted that paved the way for women to take time off from work, with pay, so that they can provide the proper care for their newborn children during this very critical period in their lives. With ample time for recovery, this also addressed the wellness and health of mothers.

Recognizing that not all employers are able to provide higher pay for their employees, R.A. 10963 or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law reduced the income tax rates for all salaried workers, which resulted in bigger monthly take home pay.

The plight of our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) was also addressed with Republic Act 10801 that strengthened the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration to better fulfill their mandate of helping OFWs who are in distress and helping them reintegrate into society in those extreme cases when they are forced to return home.

For the younger segment of society, RA 10869 or the JobStart Philippines Act is there to enhance the employability of Filipinos aged 18 to 24 by providing them with training, paid internship and full-cycle employment facilitation services. It is also designed to increase the capacity of Public Employment Service Offices (PESOs) as the local government units’ frontline for employment information and services.

There is also RA 10917 or the Expanded Special Program for the Employment of Students (SPES), which will provide out-of-school youth, as well as the dependents of displaced workers and would-be displaced workers temporary employment in order to get them back on their feet.

Often neglected because of the nature of their work, our kasambahays were provided with the benefits and social protection through RA 10361 or the Batas Kasambahay Act. With this law, they were provided with a higher minimum wage, enrollment to SSS, PhilHealth, and Pag-IBIG Fund; and entitlement to a daily rest period.

RA 11965 or the Caregivers Welfare Act guarantee our hardworking caregivers benefits and rights similar to those provided to other employees and give them protection from abuse from their employers; Republic Act 11962 or the Trabaho Para sa Bayan Act that will help improve the employability of Filipinos through upskilling and reskilling and open up more employment opportunities for them.

These are just a few of the laws we pushed for in the past for our hardworking workers. A lot more needs to be done to ensure that all bases are covered and no one is left behind.



Senator Sonny Angara has been in public service for 20 years — 9 years as Representative of the Lone District of Aurora, and 11 as Senator. He has authored, co-authored, and sponsored more than 330 laws.  He is currently serving his second term in the Senate.



Email: | Facebook, Twitter & Instagram: @sonnyangara/WDJ

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