Filipino workers receive bonuses, but more are jobless

Latest survey sees unemplyment rate rise as criticism of foreign worker influx grows
Filipino workers receive bonuses, but more are jobless

A survey by the Social Weather Stations found adult unemployment in the Philippines at 22 percent or an estimated 9.8 million adult Filipinos. (Photo by Basilio Sepe)

An announcement that more than 1.5 million Filipino government workers will receive bonuses and cash gifts this week, has come on the heels of a recent survey revealing that a million more people were made jobless in the third quarter of the year.

The government's Department of Budget and Management announced that all qualified government employees would receive their year-end tax-free bonus, equivalent to a month's basic salary, and a US$100-cash gift starting from Nov. 15.

A "productivity enhancement incentive" for government workers will be released on Dec. 15.

The government has allotted about US$680 million for the year-end bonus, and about US$138 million for the cash gifts.

Meanwhile, a survey by independent pollster Social Weather Stations (SWS) revealed that more people ended up jobless in the third quarter of this year.

The September survey, the result of which was released at the weekend, revealed the unemployment rate stood at 22 percent 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 percent.

Jobless people consist of those who voluntarily left their old jobs, those who lost their jobs due to economic circumstances beyond their control, or those seeking jobs for the first time.

The Department of Labor and Employment, however, said the figures did not take into account the number of qualified individuals who opt not to work.

Its Labor Force Survey released in July showed only 5.4 percent 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," Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said.

The survey results also showed less optimism in job availability in September compared to June.

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said to address unemployment the government should not allow those funding government infrastructure projects to bring in foreign workers.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon has earlier reported that there are close to half a million foreign workers, mostly Chinese nationals, in the Philippine capital alone.

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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," said Bishop Pabillo.

Bishop Ruperto Santos of the Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People said it is "imperative that government should plan and prioritize 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."


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