SANTO TOMAS, Pangasinan, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said the Philippines has weathered the global financial crisis better than expected and could already be experiencing a rebound in some sectors.
Labor Secretary Marianito Roque, briefing reporters before the start of the Cabinet meeting here yesterday, said the impact of the global financial crisis on the labor sector has been mitigated as domestic job losses were practically limited to the export sector.
Roque cited electronics and garments as the two hardest hit sectors in the export industry as global demand for these products declined significantly when the global crisis hit last year.
“If you do a qualitative analysis, you would see that our problem is in the export sector. We don’t have a domestic economy problem as far as recession is concerned. It’s really on the export industry and mainly in electronics and garments,” he said.
The impact has also been concentrated in some areas, particularly the Calabarzon region, where most job losses were reported.
Roque said that the garments sector is slowly recovering as orders from the United States have started coming in again.
“The remedies of the western economies are starting to kick in within their own internal economies. So if it happens and consumer demand increases, that would be good for us,” he said.
Roque pointed out that the affected sectors have already been hit while the rest are functioning well, so the government is hoping that this trend would continue.
He said that the Calabarzon locators have indicated that they are approaching some level of normalcy.
The DOLE has been putting particular focus on the region through the promotion of livelihood programs and employment referrals.
Roque emphasized that there are plenty of jobs available, about close to a million, if the opportunities from the public and private sectors are combined.
Fewer workers losing jobs
DOLE said the employment situation has improved slightly and the number of displacements has tapered down.
Teresa Peralta, DOLE’s Bureau of Employment and Labor Statistics (BLES) director, said that while there are still additional reports of workers getting retrenched, the daily average has started to go down.
“The average daily displacement due to the economic crisis is now down by 40 from 437 during the first week of March to only 397 as of March 16,” she said.
Peralta noted that from Oct. 1, 2008 to March 16, DOLE recorded a total of 109,529 workers affected by the ongoing global financial crisis.
Of the total figure, Peralta said, only 11,574 were permanently displaced while 38,806 were laid off temporarily and 59,149 were placed under flexible work arrangements.
“The daily average number of workers facing permanent displacement as a result of the crisis is now pegged at 90,” Peralta said in her report to Roque.
The government, however, has put in place its emergency employment program for unemployed or retrenched workers.
Around 500,000 jobs would be originating from the Department of Public Works and Highways with infrastructure projects across the country.
Another 180,000 jobs would be made available through the directive of President Arroyo for all government agencies to set aside 1.5 percent of their annual budget for maintenance and other operating expenses for employment programs.
Mrs. Arroyo said the government is doing a lot of things like minimizing unnecessary expenses and spending wisely to cushion the impact of the crisis.
Roque noted that the DOLE and the Department of Budget and Management have come up with a circular containing the guidelines on how to implement the order of the President.
He pointed out that most of the jobs would be non-technical such as clerical work, data entry and even price monitors.
Roque said the 180,000 jobs would be made available starting next month, the same time the Nurses Assigned in Rural Service (NARS) would begin.
The NARS program would provide around 10,000 new nurses with training and experience they could use for employment overseas. They would be assigned in rural areas where there is a shortage of nurses.
These nurses would be provided with allowances by the national and local governments.
In the case of the private sector, Roque said the business process outsourcing industry would have around 120,000 jobs available as it continues to grow despite the global financial crisis.
The overseas job market remains an alternative to jobseekers, with the Middle East continuing to be the top destination.
Qatar still has the most number of available jobs for Filipinos this year due to the commitment given by its government to the Philippines to issue 120,000 working visas.
Roque noted that only 14,000 visas have been issued so far so there are 106,000 more jobs waiting for Filipinos in Qatar this year.
The number of retrenched overseas Filipino workers has gone down from 5,700 to 4,300 as several of the affected workers were able to find other jobs overseas.
He said DOLE regularly monitors all locations in the world where Filipinos are working and no drastic movements have been recorded so far. – Mayen Jaymalin, Eva Visperas, Philippine Star