PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has instructed government agencies to boost spending on programs related to social protection with the end goal of preparing the Philippine workforce for the further opening of the economy and the expected influx of foreign investors, the country’s labor chief said on Tuesday.
“Mayroon na pong tagubilin sa amin na mahigpit ang Pangulo na naririyan ang pondo, lalo na ang may kinalaman sa social protection programs ng pamahalaan, dapat maipagkaloob natin iyan sa mga intended beneficiaries,” Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma said during a Palace press briefing.
“Kaya ang catch-up plan po namin ay kasama iyong collaboration at saka partnership, not just with the local government units, but also with our legislators and most importantly po, sa private sector.”
President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. led the sectoral meeting in Malacañang to address underspending and determine the steps to improve agency budget utilization. Government agencies presented during the meeting their respective catch-up plans to fast track the delivery of social services.
According to Laguesma, the President wants particular focus on the employability of the Filipino youth to prepare them for the future, especially for the post-pandemic opening of the economy as more restrictions are lifted.
Based on the data and forecast from business organizations and firms, the President’s foreign travels would eventually result in more investors coming in to set up their businesses in the Philippines, Laguesma said.
“Sa darating na panahon, bunga rin ito ng mga pagbibiyahe ng ating Pangulo, ay magkakaroon po ng mga setting up ng bagong mga kumpanya, expansion ng mga existing at mangangailangan po sila ng mga karagdagang manggagawa na tutulong upang lalong mapalakas iyong pagkakataon na magkaroon tayo ng mas maraming opportunities para sa mga manggagawa,” Laguesma told reporters.
He said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has a catch-up plan already in place, being one of government agencies extending social protection in coordination with local government units (LGUs) and other partners.
One of the DOLE’s big-ticket programs is the Tulong Pangkabuhayan Para sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD), focusing on extending assistance to the disadvantaged, vulnerable, displaced and marginalized sector.
While agencies were required to come up with catch-up plans, Laguesma clarified that the data on utilization rate only covered the first quarter of the year.
“Itong second quarter po, nakahabol na po kami dahil noong kami ay nabigyan ng impormasyon kung ano ang rate ng aming utilization, agad-agad po kami ay nakipagpulong na sa mga regional directors,” he said.
Aside from having a catch-up plan, DOLE has to carry out profiling of intended beneficiaries to ensure that government money is spent on programs that really benefit the eligible population.
“Kailangan din na matiyak namin na ang mga tamang documentation na laging hinahanap po ng COA ay amin pong maisasagawa nang sa ganoon naman ay iyong naipagkaloob na pondo sa atin ay talagang maukol doon sa dapat niyang pagkagastusan,” Laguesma said.