Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello said Thursday that almost 5 million Filipinos became unemployed due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as of December 2020.
In an interview with ANC, Belo said the figures are actually low since some workers who were temporarily lost their jobs have already been rehired.
“As of December, umaabot lang po ng mga around a little less than 5 million,” he said.
“Kaunti talaga kasi kagaya ng sinabi ko meron ‘yung about 3 million natanggal pero temporary. Under the law, after six months they have to be rehired,” he added.
The labor chief said some employers and workers have agreed to extend the period of the retrenchment to another six months.
Bello said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLW) eyes another wage subsidy but this time, for employers. The agency plans to cover 25% to 50% of the salary of their employees.
“We really need the wage subsidy for employers in order to preserve…because that’s our mandate, to preserve and protect the employment of our workers,” he said.
Bello said DOLE is proposing a P40 billion budget under the Bayanihan 3.
“You have to provide them the momentum of restarting their business, yun ang pinaka-importante. Kailangan mapatibay ‘yung kanilang negosyo,” he said.
Around 5 million Filipinos unemployed during pandemic – Bello
“That’s the only way to restrengthen also ‘yung employment rate natin,” he added.
The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) thinks this is the second wave of unemployment in the country caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many more will close if the only solution to the problem is a lockdown and policies still clash.
“‘Yong second wave ng unemployment ang grabe. Nakikita ko ‘yong mga listahan na di ko alam kung opisyal or what, ‘yong mga ibinebentang kompanya, ‘yong mga kompanyang nagbabalak magsara, nakakatakot,” said ECOP President Sergio Ortiz-Luis.
Bello, on the other hand, supported the recommendation to ease the quarantine category, especially in Metro Manila.
According to the National Economic and Development Authority, P700 million is lost to workers per day in areas that remain in the general community quarantine.
The national Social Weather Survey (SWS) of November 21-25, 2020, found adult joblessness at 27.3% of the adult labor force.
This is down by 12 points from the 39.5% in September 2020.