Solon eyes master plan for job issues


SENATE Majority Leader Joel Villanueva is looking forward to mustering bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress for the timely enactment of the enabling legislation  to establish the Trabaho Para sa Bayan Plan.

Touted to serve as a long-term employment generation and recovery masterplan, Sen. Villanueva envisions a landmark legislation—he filed Senate Bill No. 2035—to be known as Trabaho Para sa Bayan (TPB) Act. Once enacted, it will “promote job-led economic growth and enhanced industry collaboration providing overall services for worker development and incentives to businesses.”

Noting that the proposed Trabaho Para sa Bayan Bill was included in the priority measures of the Marcos administration, the Senate Majority Leader said: “We are humbled and thankful to President Bongbong Marcos for personally asking us to lead in the passage of this measure.”

As filed, the Senate version of the proposed Trabaho Para sa Bayan Act is meant “to provide an employment policy that is comprehensive, coherent, and future-oriented, to be able to address the dynamic changes in the labor market.”

The Majority Leader stressed that “employment should not just be an incident to economic development,” reminding that “generating more decent and permanent employment should be the objective of economic growth, to make growth inclusive and a reality for all.”

Villanueva stressed that the Philippines has yet to overcome the “seasonality” of jobs, wherein more workers are hired during peak months.

He recalled that in December 2022, the unemployment rate dropped to 4.3 percent from the 5.3 percent in August 2022, but it climbed anew, however, in January 2023 at 4.8 percent after the holiday season. The underemployment rate has remained high from 13.8 percent in 2019 to 14.1 percent as of January 2023, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

Villanueva likewise cited PSA showing a huge gap in the employment in the service sector at 60.7 percent compared with the agricultural sector at 22.2 percent percent and the industry sector at 17.1 percent.

“Clearly, we need to diversify and increase opportunities in other sectors if we are to become a self-sustaining and prosperous country,” Villanueva stressed.

Expecting that the masterplan shall be formulated by an Inter-Agency Council chaired by the National Economic and Development Authority, with the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Labor and Employment as co-chairpersons, the senator expects that the conferees shall direct all government agencies to come up with integrated and coordinated solutions for a range of matters such as:

  • Rising precarity and informality of work;
  • Tackling the nuanced needs of particular sectors—including the marginalized and vulnerable;
  • Increase in the number of workers in the digital economy, gig economy, and platform work;
  • Full-cycle reintegration of Overseas Filipino Workers;
  • Promoting opportunities in priority sectors, key and emerging industries with high employment potential;
  • Expanding access to active labor market policies; and
  • Job-skills mismatch and potential skills gap in emerging industries.

The Council shall also harmonize all existing policies, plans, programs, and projects and shall work together with existing interagency councils engaged in efforts that aim to provide an enabling environment for employment and enterprises to grow.

“The TPB Plan will harmonize and synergize all efforts towards a coherent and cohesive employment policy: A single plan that provides direction for all policies, projects, programs and other initiatives to sustain efforts to ensure high-quality jobs in the country,” Villanueva said, partly in Filipino.