Anti-poverty chief sees more Pinoys going poor

Published by rudy Date posted on January 31, 2009

The National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) warned yesterday that the number of poor Filipinos might increase in the coming months after the labor department reported that up to 300,000 workers might lose their jobs in the next six months due to the global financial crisis.

NAPC Secretary Domingo Panganiban said “it is certain” that the poverty level in the country will increase in the face of massive layoffs, especially in export-oriented companies.

The commission urged local government units (LGUs) and non-government organizations (NGOs) to participate in the nationwide effort to boost livelihood and employment opportunities for poor and middle-class Filipino workers who will be affected by the crisis.

“It is certain that the poverty level will further increase because more people will lose their jobs,” Panganiban said at the Forum on Hunger Mitigation, Population Management and Poverty Reduction held at the UP Institute of Small Scale Industries in Diliman, Quezon City.

He said President Arroyo last month directed them to assemble the framework for a Comprehensive Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program (CLEEP) to provide jobs and equip the people to survive the crisis.

Panganiban said the program is designed to achieve two crucial objectives that include building the capabilities of Filipino workers and giving them the skills they need to compete in tougher job markets.

Panganiban explained that the initiative was created particularly for the so-called priority provinces.

He also said that the program would involve creation of jobs through the construction of roads, maintenance of irrigation facilities, establishment of competitive agricultural enterprises, and expansion of micro-finance services for poor people nationwide.

Panganiban said the government allocated P18 billion for the emergency employment program, to be taken from the savings of government agencies last year.

He said that although the program has no time frame and is expected to carry on until the global financial crisis is over, the government initially aims to assist more than 200,000 Filipinos.

Panganiban said CLEEP has already identified 81,216 job opportunities in the priority provinces and has provided jobs to 63,672 workers.

Priority 1 provinces are: National Capital Region, Agusan del Sur, Camarines Norte, Lanao del Norte, Maguindanao, Masbate, Mountain Province, Sarangani, Surigao del Norte, Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga Sibugay.

Priority 2 provinces are: Abra, Antique, Biliran, Bukidnon, Camarines Sur, Davao Oriental, Lanao del Sur, Kalinga, Marinduque, Misamis Occidental, Negros Oriental, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Palawan, Romblon, Samar, Sultan Kudarat, Sulu, Surigao del Sur, and Tawi-Tawi.

Priority 3 provinces are: Agusan del Norte, Aklan, Albay, Apayao, Basilan, Bohol, Camiguin, Capiz, Catanduanes, Cotabato, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Eastern Samar, Ifugao, Iloilo, Leyte, La Union, Negros Occidental, Northern Samar, Quezon, Sorsogon, Southern Leyte, South Cotabato, and Zamboanga del Sur.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said some 15,000 workers have already been laid off while 19,000 others had their workdays cut to four days or less in the past two months.–Katherine Adraneda, Philippine Star

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