Lawmakers are urging the House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriations to restore the substantial cut it did on the Department of Labor’s 2020 budget.
One of them, Rep. Enrico Pineda of 1-PACMAN Party-list group, said he would file a resolution seeking to restore the agency’s P1.9-billion budget.
Pineda said the huge budget cut will hamper the implementation of the department’s key programs aimed to help many Filipino laborers.
The DoLE, under the leadership of Secretary Silvestre Bello III, proposed a P14.4-billion budget for 2020.
The legislators said among the programs to be affected by the budget cut are the (1) Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers Program (TUPAD) that lost P1.16 billion or 30 percent, (2) Government Internship Program that decreased by P1.04 billion or 219 percent, and (3) Child Labor Prevention and Elimination Program (CLPEP) which was reduced by P100 million or 667 percent.
Pineda said that TUPAD is a significant program that has been supporting many Filipinos, especially after facing severe calamities.
“In times of calamities, a lot of our workers’ livelihood has been displaced. And so there is a need to increase rather than decrease the DoLE budget,” Pineda said.
When asked about the CLPEP, Director Karen Perida-Trayvilla conveyed that the department, in fact, requires P175 million to properly implement the program annually.
With this, Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda of Antique said the funding for the program should be institutionalized in order to ensure that it is appropriately carried out and able to fulfill its objectives.
“To carve out P175 million to protect the children of our country, that would be easy. Mister Vice Chair, I will help you trim down the fat in some agencies to put in P175 million, which is an institutional amendment. It should not be charged to any congressmen,” Legarda said.
Several legislators also raised the issue on contractualization that has been a salient matter being encountered by Filipino workers.
Meanwhile, Bello III reported that 504,000 contractual workers have already been regularized from 2016 to 2019. He added that 65 percent were through the voluntary compliance of employers, which signals their cooperation with President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s thrust to solve endo in the country.
Bello, however, admitted that the DOLE is hindered by their limited labor law compliance officers, who are in charge of examining companies to assure that they regularize the remaining contractual workers in the country.
There are currently 700 LLCOs tasked to inspect almost one million establishments nationwide that require 5,000 inspectors.
Rep. Raymond Democrito Mendoza of TUCP Party-list group recognized the sentiment of the DOLE and pressed for budget provision for the LLCOs.