MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 5, 2011) - Filipino leader Benigno Aquino III vowed to relentlessly pursue reforms in the country's labor laws to ensure that every Filipino's right to fair and better working conditions are met.
“From the moment we stepped into office, our battle cry for our labor sector has always been clear and simple: make things better for labor in a responsible manner,” Aquino told participants to the 3rd Regional Conference of the Union Network International (UNI) Asia-Pacific Regional Organization (APRO) held at the Century Park Hotel Grand Ballroom Tuesday.
The President said his vision for better labor meant “turning working abroad into a choice, as opposed to the necessity that it has become for a lot of our countrymen” and “allowing the common Filipino worker to have enough resources so that when he comes home, tired from a long day at work, he may be rewarded with time with his family, a well-deserved rest, and a full plate for dinner.”
He, however, stressed that this should be done responsibly “to make sure that the investors who give jobs to our people continue to operate here.”
The President said that through the implementation of the Department of Labor and Employment's Philippine Labor and Employment Plan 2011-2016, mid- and long-term solutions to the predicament of balanced employer-employee or management-labor relations will be achieved.
“This plan is a vital part of achieving our countrymen’s shared aspirations for the Philippines: inclusive and equitable growth that increases employment levels, improves the quality of employment, expands access to employment opportunities, and advances dialogue processes toward more mutual or collective gains,” Aquino said.
“Simply put, it’s a country where no one gets left behind—where everybody not only pulls his own weight, but also links arms with his fellow man so that everyone, from every part of the economic spectrum, moves forward on the road to progress,” he added.
The President enumerated his government's achievements to effect a “drastic turnaround” in labor and working conditions that included: directing regional wage boards to release its decisions on wage hikes, creating jobs, infusing livelhood training centers such as the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority with P700-million “for their Training for Work Scholarship Program.”
“This will equip Filipinos with the knowledge to excel in various industries with high labor demand, specifically the BPO industry,” he said.
He added that DOLE will soon upgrade Phil-Jobnet, the government’s job matchmaking system accessible through the world wide web.
“The new and improved Phil-Jobnet will also be the labor market information portal of the Philippine government, and the people at the Labor Department believe that it will be able to house supply and demand database systems such as the National Skills Registry System,” Aquino said.
“The registry system will allow workers to list their skills and qualifications to become more visible to hiring employers, effectively streamlining the process for both employees and companies,” he added.
He pointed out that the number of unemployed Filipinos went down from 8 percent to 7.2 percent from April 2010 to 2011 but stressed that “those without jobs still need to make a living.”
Despite these achievements, the President noted that more needs to done “to improve the conditions for our labor sector.”
“I am not disappointed with the progress we have made in the past year, but I will never be content until those working beyond our shores remain there by choice and not by necessity. Our administration will not rest as long as there are those among us who toil all day without any prospect of improving their lot in life; we will not rest as long as there are those who sweat but remain hungry, with a skewed and diminished sense of self-worth,” he said.
“We will not rest until we complete the drastic turnaround that we began when we stepped into office. We know that the Filipino people stand alongside us, that they share our responsibilities as we move toward our shared aspirations.”