President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has called on Congress to speed up the passage of several legislative measures that will benefit the Filipino public particularly as the country recovers from COVID-19 pandemic.
Delivering his final State of the Nation Address (SONA) in Batasang Pambansa on Monday, the President urged legislators to immediately pass the amendments of priority legislative measures such as the Foreign Investments Act, the Public Service Act, and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act.
At the same time, President Duterte asked Congress to pass an E-Governance Act that will set up the transition of government processes to the digital age.
Lawmakers, he said, must also pass a law creating the Department of Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos, a single agency that will focus on and respond quickly to the needs and concerns of the country’s overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
“Kailangan po ito because they are suffering not on — they suffered not only yesterday but they are still suffering now with so many inadequacies, in both our government response including the monetary assistance,” he said.
And as the country battles the coronavirus pandemic, the chief executive said, he has recently signed an Executive Order creating the task force that will shepherd the country’s National Employment Recovery Strategy.
The task force partnered with the Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) to implement the Reform, Rebound, and Recover Program that aims to vaccinate qualified workers to fill in more than one million jobs, he said.
These jobs will be created in the fields of construction, information technology, business process outsourcing (BPO), and electronics, he added, as he thanked business associations for joining government efforts to bring back lost income opportunities for the workforce.
Another important component of government’s employment recovery strategy is the retooling of the country’s workers to prepare them for better job opportunities.
Since the start of community quarantines, the President reported that over 1.2 million individuals availed of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority’s (TESDA) free online training programs.
“I am directing the National Employment Recovery Strategy Task Force, particularly TESDA, to ensure the upskilling of our workers and increase their employability,” he said.
“I expect the task force to work double time not only to recoup job losses, but more importantly to rehabilitate the economy and help our hardest hit sectors recover.”
Through the COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises or CARES Program, the government released P988 million worth of loans to over 14,000 enterprises under Bayanihan 1.
Under Bayanihan 2, it extended P2.9 billion worth of loans to over 12,000 enterprises including displaced OFWs and enterprises in the tourism sector to help them start or sustain their businesses amid the pandemic.
Also, despite the government’s inability to conduct face-to-face classes during the pandemic, the President said his government remains determined in delivering quality and accessible education to all.
The creation of the Basic Education Learning Continuity Plan enabled the uninterrupted learning in the basic education sector while ensuring the safety and well-being of the teachers and students, he said. PND