December 15, 2020
Manifestation Speech of Sen. Joel Villanueva
Mr. President, please allow me to spread into the records that I join the Sponsor our hardworking finance chair Senator Angara and the rest of our colleagues in approving the two Committee Report which extends the availability of the appropriations under the 2020 General Appropriations Act (GAA) and the Bayanihan to Recover As One Act (RA 11494).
As we still remain in a pandemic-induced economic recession, thousands of businesses have either limited or completely ceased their operations, affecting our local and overseas workers. Based on the October 2020 Labor Force Survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), 3.8 million Filipinos actively looking for jobs are unable to find jobs amidst this pandemic. This, Mr. President, does not include the thousands “discouraged workers” who stopped looking for jobs due to lack of opportunities, and the displaced OFWs, who are both technically considered as workers outside the Labor Force.
Note, Mr. President, that at least 1.7 million applicants to DOLE programs were unserved since Bayanihan 1. They are considered the priorities under Bayanihan 2. They are broken down into: 945,319 applicants for CAMP, 455,149 applicants for TUPAD-BKBK, 336,966 applicants for AKAP (for our OFWs).
Unfortunately, according to DOLE, of the Php 16.4 billion budget allotted to them under Bayanihan 2, only Php 7.9 billion (48%) has been disbursed as of December 14, 2020. This has benefitted only 1.36 million workers, compared to the target of 2.3 million workers. (Kawawa naman po yong simula pa ng lockdown ay hindi pa rin nabibigyan ng ayuda.)
Binanggit din po ni Sec. Bello kanina at mga kasamahan sa sa DOLE na may Php 1 billion pa rin na hindi nare-release.
Millions of Filipinos also need access to support to training and upskilling. However, TESDA faces the same problem with utilizing its Php 1 billion additional fund in Bayanihan 2 allocation for training and upskilling of displaced workers and returning OFWs. To date, only Php 111 million of the Php 1 billion budget has been obligated.
That is why, we cannot stress even more the need to extend the availability of the Bayanihan 2 funding crucial to implement job generation and workers’ welfare protection programs.
Furthermore, the extension of the availability of the appropriations of the Bayanihan 2 funds is also going to benefit our education sector. (If you would recall, we allotted Php 3 billion for the creation of smart SUCs). This would improve and sustain our education sector resilience through flexible learning and other innovative learning modalities. Better internet connection and learners management system remain to be a crucial necessity for our education sector, especially in higher education.
Mr. President, we live in extraordinary times, and this requires the adoption of extraordinary measures. Extending the availability of the funds under the 2020 GAA and the Bayanihan 2 will be the spring board to our genuine and inclusive recovery in 2021.
Muli, maraming salamat Ginoong Pangulo at sa ating mga kasamahan, at pagpalain tayo ng Panginoong Diyos.