ILIGAN CITY – President Arroyo has ordered the expansion of the administration’s emergency employment and livelihood program to create at least one million jobs for the poor by July.
In her message at the start of the Cabinet meeting in her ancestral home here, Mrs. Arroyo said yesterday she shares the strong optimism of Filipinos for the Philippines this year.
“This is the year that the overwhelming majority of our people have greeted with hope in their hearts – despite the perils of a global economy in crisis and the importunings of the usual critics and fault-finders,” Mrs. Arroyo said.
“We who are privileged to lead our country, especially through times of global crisis like this, are blessed by the spiritual strength of our millions of countrymen for whom and to whom we are accountable,” she said.
“Let us not squander this blessing. Let us put this blessing to good account and multiply it into the daily good works of our office, the uncounted fruits of our political leadership that our people have a right to demand from us,” she said.
National Anti-Poverty Commission chairman Secretary Domingo Panganiban said the expansion of the emergency employment and livelihood program was to mitigate the effects of the global economic crisis that is expected to worsen this year.
The program, launched in October last year, was initially meant to cover a few hundred thousand jobless Filipinos around the country.
Panganiban said the target was to create 500,000 jobs within the first two months of the year, starting on Jan. 15, that would steadily increase to one million by the second half of the year.
He stressed this is on top of other employment generation efforts of the government. The move to expand the emergency employment and livelihood program effectively doubled the target in a shorter period.
Panganiban said that more funds would be released to achieve the expansion of the program. The funds would be sourced mainly from savings of departments and the P300-billion economic sustainability plan to be funded from the P1.415-trillion national budget for 2009.
Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Lorelei Fajardo earlier said the cost of the livelihood and emergency employment projects was estimated at P1.7 billion.
But Panganiban said the amount would be higher because of its expansion.
He, however, could not say exactly how much would be spent for the expanded program.
“The President instructed that the savings of each would be used before accessing the savings from (the) 2008 (national budget),” Panganiban said.
He said there would also be a special program for Filipinos laid off from work abroad, which Cabinet secretaries will be working closely on with local executives and non-government organizations.
Division of tasks
The Palace earlier announced that Health Secretary Francisco Duque III will be in charge of setting up Botika ng Barangay (community drug stores) for Region 1 (Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union and Pangasinan), as a livelihood program and tap the jobless for repairs of health facilities as emergency employment program.
With the exception of Pangasinan, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap will oversee the implementation of the cultivation of organic fertilizers as livelihood program and restoration of irrigation systems as emergency jobs program.
The Department of Agriculture is also in charge of Region 2 (Batanes, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino) along with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in employment of the jobless for the repair of irrigation systems and farm-to-market roads, and guarding forests against poaching and illegal logging, and setting up the cultivation of organic fertilizer and agro-forestry projects for livelihood projects.
The DENR and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) were placed in charge of implementing livelihood programs for agro-forestry and the Self-Employment Assistance-Kaunlaran (SEA-K) program, and using the unemployed in forest work and other cash-for-work projects in the Cordillera Autonomous Region (Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Mountain Province).
For Tarlac and Pampanga, the Department of Education will set up small businesses for making herbal soap and hiring utility workers for maintenance of public schools.
Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane was placed in charge of Zambales, Aurora and Nueva Ecija to set up hollow blocks-making businesses and implementing the Out-Of-School Youth Serving Towards Economic Recovery (OYSTER).
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) was put in charge of Bulacan and Bataan to implement livelihood programs for fisherfolk, and implementing flood control programs.
Microfinance for jeepney drivers and their families and employing stevedores for port operations will also be implemented in the region, Fajardo said.
Socio-economic Planning Secretary Ralph Recto will be in charge of Batangas to implement SEA-K and OYSTER.
Trade Secretary Peter Favila will push for the One-Town-One Product (OTOP) and OYSTER programs in Laguna.
Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno will be in charge of setting up small businesses on the fabrication of construction materials, and cleaning of drainages as emergency employment program.
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will also set up livelihood programs for the making of hollow blocks and implementing OYSTER.
Vice President Noli de Castro is in charge of Region 4B (Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Quezon, and Rizal) to also put up hollow blocks making businesses and tapping the jobless for public construction projects.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and the Departments of Foreign Affairs, Energy, and the Transportation and Communication are in charge of the National Capital Region for various projects including OYSTER, recycling, and microfinance for poor families.
Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya will implement the construction of irrigation and farm-to-market roads in the Bicol region.
Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez would oversee the Botika ng Barangay projects as well as employing the jobless for sanitation work in Iloilo.
For Region 7 (Bohol, Cebu, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor), Finance Secretary Margarito Teves was assigned to put up small piggery businesses and push for the repair of irrigation systems, while Tourism Secretary Ace Durano would employ people for coastal watch duties.
Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said he would implement livelihood programs on livestock and also push for coastal watch duties for the unemployed.
The DOLE is also put in charge of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan for projects for the informal sector while the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) would implement similar initiatives for beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.
Press Secretary Jesus Dureza would implement the OTOP program and tap the jobless for coast watch duties in Davao provinces.
The DAR and the DWSD will also set up microfinance projects and initiate construction activities for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. –Paolo Romero, Philippine Star