CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 1 December 2018

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Government workers receive bonuses but others are still jobless

MANILA (UCAN): The Philippine government’s Department of Budget and Management announced that more than 1.5 million qualified government employees would receive their year-end tax-free bonus, equivalent to a month’s basic salary along with a US$100 ($780) cash gift starting November 15. A “productivity enhancement incentive” for government workers will be released on December 15.
 
The government has allotted about US$680 million ($5.3 million) for the year-end bonus, and about US$138 million ($1.4 million) for the cash gifts.
 
In stark contrast, a September survey by Social Weather Stations, revealed that more people ended up jobless in the third quarter of this year. The results, released on November 10, revealed that the unemployment rate stood at 22 per cent or an estimated 9.8 million people. The figure was 2.3 percentage points higher than the last survey in June, which was 19.7 per cent.
 
The survey also showed less optimism regarding job availability in September compared to June.
 
Bishop Ruperto Santos of the Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines said it is “imperative that government should plan and prioritise their efforts to build up the economy and create jobs.”
 
He said the government should provide jobs that are “stable, secure and safe” because “without jobs here our people are forced to migrate.”
 
However, the Department of Labour and Employment, said the figures did not take into account the number of qualified individuals who opted not to work. Its Labour Force Survey, released in July, showed only 5.4 per cent of the population was unemployed.
 
The survey included people aged 15 and older while, the Social Weather Stations survey included just adults 18-years-old and over.
 
“There are jobs available, people are qualified for jobs but they opt not to work. You can’t call them unemployed because it is their choice,” Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello III insisted.
 
Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila, said that in order to address unemployment, the government should not allow those funding infrastructure projects to bring in foreign workers.
 
Senate minority leader, Franklin Drilon, had earlier reported that there are close to half a million foreign workers, mostly Chinese nationals, in the Philippine capital alone.
 
Data from the Bureau of Local Employment, however, showed that from 2015 to 2017, only 115,652 foreign nationals were given permits to work in the country.
 
“What the government should do is train and retrain youth and workers for available jobs,” Bishop Pabillo said. 

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