GMA sets aside budget for 180,000 contractual workers

Published by rudy Date posted on February 14, 2009

MANILA, Philippines – President Arroyo has directed government agencies to set aside a portion of their maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) budget to fund the hiring of about 180,000 contractual workers nationwide to help reduce unemployment caused by the global economic crisis, officials said yesterday.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the President issued Executive Order 782 on Tuesday after leading the Jobs and Business Growth Summit in Malacañang on Monday.

“This EO has something to do with ordering all government agencies to set aside 1.5 percent of their MOOE so that the (total) amount according to the Department of Finance of P7 billion shall be the source of employing under a contractual basis some 180,000 employees for six months,” Ermita said, adding the employment will be good up to July.

He said: “the important thing here is that there is an effort, upon orders of the President, to muster enough amount from existing resources for use to pay the salaries of the contractuals as an immediate measure to solve the unemployment brought about by the global economic crisis.”

Meanwhile, officials said no factory of the 1,956 locators inside the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) has been shut down thus far, while the employment rate in the zone increased by 2.54 percent in 2008.

PEZA Director General Lilia de Lima said locators are adopting certain work hours to enable them to retain their workers as it would be more expensive to hire new personnel and train them.

She said some companies have shortened their work week while others have suspended their operations but continue to keep their work force intact.

Despite the closure of the Intel plant last month at the Gateway Business Park in Cavite, De Lima said employment in the PEZA still inched up by 2.54 percent in 2008 compared to 2007.

The country’s economic zones turned in a total of P443 billion in export revenues and generated some 177,000 jobs last year, she said.

Last month, Intel Corp. announced a production cut at its two US silicon wafer facilities and the closure of three overseas facilities-two in Penang, Malaysia, and the third at the Gateway Business Park.

Domestic helpers still hold on to jobs

Meanwhile, Filipina domestic helpers continue to remain in their jobs despite the global economic crisis.

Administrator Jennifer Manalili of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) said they have not received any report of Filipina domestic helpers being retrenched.

“We have no reports of displacements of Filipino domestic helpers, particularly from Hong Kong and Singapore, where a majority of our household helpers are employed,” she said.

Manalili said domestic helpers abroad are the least to be affected by the impact of the economic crisis.

“Foreign employers have no choice but to hire household workers who will stay in their homes and do household chores as they continue working or look for jobs,” she said.

POEA data showed that more than 5,000 OFWs were displaced due to the economic slump.

However, Manalili said some 200 retrenched OFWs were already able to find new jobs abroad.

“In Qatar alone we are able to secure 8,000 jobs for OFWs,” she said.

“Most of the jobs available are for engineers and other construction workers.”

Manalili said the POEA is now working on a market development plan to promote the hiring of more OFWs abroad. “We are collaborating with the recruitment industry in finding a market for our OFWs,” she said.

Meanwhile, Manalili said the POEA has not observed any drop in the deployment of Filipino workers abroad.

“We are still collating our data, but based from the initial reports from our airports there is no significant drop in the number of OFWs who are leaving the country for employment abroad,” she said. – Paolo Romero with Mayen Jaymalin, Philippine Star

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