GMA unveils measures to stem rising unemployment

Published by rudy Date posted on February 10, 2009

MANILA, Philippines –  President Arroyo unveiled yesterday fresh measures to help stem rising unemployment in the country due to the global economic crisis, including the creation of “green collar jobs” to protect the environment.

Mrs. Arroyo said part of the administration’s P330-billion economic resiliency plan is putting all “budget-funded energy independence and environment jobs in one box called green collar jobs.”

“This (green collar jobs) will include those who will be hired under the P2-billion reforestation fund, whether in the re-greening of logged-over uplands like the mountains of Bukidnon, Cagayan de Oro, Lanao del Sur or in the regeneration of mangrove areas,” Mrs. Arroyo said during a multi-sectoral jobs summit in Malacañang yesterday.

Under the Grassroots Entrepreneurship for Eco-Tourism (GREET) program, the government will hire people for coastal cleanup and Baywatch groups; jathropa planting and the replanting of coconut farms to ensure stable and sustainable biofuel feed stock; retrofitting of tricycles and other public utility vehicles to be run on liquefied petroleum gas; barangay electrification using solar panels or connecting them to hydroelectric power grids; installing solar-powered street lights and “other clean energy initiatives that the newly signed renewable energy act can unleash,” she said.

“So these are part of the green collar jobs that are part of our emergency employment program,” the President said.

The government will also create jobs for the youth this summer under the “Youth Employment in Summer” or YES program.

She reiterated her call for unity and less politicking to enable the country to confront the global economic crisis effectively.

“Truly, if anything, a tight economy should prompt people to yearn for greater stability and harmony and working together, not working apart, so let us all pool together to make sure the country puts jobs and the economy ahead of political and costly conflicts. Let us focus on joining hands against the global crisis,” Mrs. Arroyo said at the summit that had the theme “Joining hands against the global crisis.”

Furthermore, some 6,000 short-term jobs have been opened up in the government’s P650-million poverty mapping project, which the Department of Social Welfare and Development will undertake once the 2009 budget takes effect, she said.

The President will also create jobs for new nurses who will be deployed to poor areas in the countryside and will be known as “wellness warriors.”

The project called “NARS” or Nurses Assigned in Rural Areas is for untrained nurses who are finding it hard to get jobs.

“They (untrained nurses) shall be mobilized in their hometowns. These warriors for wellness shall do three I’s: initiate primary health, school nutrition, maternal health program, first-line diagnosis, etc.; inform about community water sanitation practices and do health surveillance; and third, immunize children and mothers. They shall also serve as roving nurses for rural schools,” she said.

Mrs. Arroyo said NARS would only cost P500 million for the national and local governments while the private sector can help in terms of materials and medicine for the poor.

She said the nurses can be paid an allowance of P8,000 a month with a two- to six-month tour of duty for each nurse. Five nurses for each of the 1,000 poorest municipalities can be deployed.

“The stipend can be increased if the host LGUs offer a counterpart of say P2,000, which is the official cell phone bill of a town official,” she said.

In a joint communiqué, representatives of the sectors who attended the summit pushed for the allocation of at least 1.5 percent of the operating budgets of government agencies this year for the green collar jobs, NARS and YES.

Details from the summit said the emergency employment program of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources could generate at least 35,000 jobs. –Paolo Romero, Philippine Star

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