De Lima urges gov’t to address rising unemployment

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Sen. Leila M. de Lima has urged the government to arrest the rising unemployment and underemployment rates in the country, especially among the youth and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) displaced in conflict-stricken areas.

In filing Senate Resolution No. 402, De Lima wanted the Senate labor committee to look into the rising unemployment and prepare measures or programs to mitigate its impact to the country’s economy.

She also asked the Senate labor committee to assess the potential adverse effects of House Bill No. 5636, or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act, not only to the middle- and low-income workers but also to the unemployed.

“There is a very urgent need for the government to anticipate and address the economic impact of rising unemployment, especially in light of President Duterte’s act of certifying as urgent the passage of House Bill No. 5636,” she said.

She explained that the proposed tax reform measure is “poised to become extremely burdensome” to middle- and low-income earners, as well as the unemployed and underemployed individuals.

These unemployed and underemployed persons will not benefit from the lowered income tax rates but will only suffer the hike in the prices of basic goods precipitated by the proposed higher excise tax rates on fuel, she pointed out.

Official figures showed that unemployment rate rose from 38.4 to 39.2 million from 2015 to 2016, respectively, while underemployment rate increased by 847,000 to 7.7 million in January 2016.

The Senator from Bicol also expressed concern over the increasing number of unemployed individuals among the youth and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who are feared to be displaced due to ongoing war or conflict abroad.

“The government should strengthen efforts towards job creation and generation, and solving the issue of job mismatch, especially now that almost million joined the labor force because of the recently-concluded academic year,” she said.

De Lima also noted that the displaced OFWs who are unable to find alternative employment will further balloon the unemployment problem and negatively impact expected remittances abroad.

She added that the government should study the possibility of providing greater benefits and training incentives for fresh graduates and displaced OFWs who badly need to ease out their financial burdens while seeking employment.

“There is an urgent need to investigate in aid of legislation the rise in our country’s unemployment rate, address this perennial problem, and study the possible negative effects of certain proposed legislation on unemployed workers, their families, and Philippine society in general,” she pointed out.

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