Senator Win Gatchalian is urging the country’s economic managers to pump more stimulus to the labor market to ensure the preservation of jobs of many Filipinos in the light of the record-breaking unemployment rate in the country since strict quarantine measures took effect amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gatchalian made the appeal as he lamented that the unemployment rate jumped by an all-time high of 17.7% in April 2020. The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported earlier this month that there are 7.3 million unemployed Filipinos as of April 2020.
The lawmaker noted the biggest chunk of unemployed Filipinos can be found in the Bangsamoro Administrative Region in Muslim Mindanao (29.8%), followed by Central Luzon (27.3%) and Cordillera Administrative Region (25.3%). In terms of subsectors, Gatchalian said the largest reduction in employment was felt in the arts, entertainment, and recreation with 54%, followed by electricity, gas, steam, and air conditioning supply with 43.1%, and information and communication with 40.6%.
According to the Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs, there’s a big debate now on what stimulus package will be prioritized under the ‘Bayanihan to Recover as One Act’. Gatchalian vowed to fight for a bigger stimulus package that will ensure preservation of jobs of millions of Filipinos. Citing his office’s internal projection, the senator said the government will need an estimated Php301 billion to create direct and indirect jobs for those impacted by the COVID-19-induced economic crisis for the rest of the year.
“Sa akin, iisa lang ang dapat tutukan ng stimulus package at ito yung job preservation. Kung itong pandemiyang ito ay tatagal, mahalaga na mapanatili ng milyong-milyong manggagawa ang kanilang trabaho. Kung ang isang kumpanya ay wala namang kinikita, dito ngayon papasok ang ating gobyerno. Ang gobyerno ang tutulong sa mga kumpanya upang mapanatili ang kanilang mga empleyado,” the senator said.
“Importante na makatawid tayo hanggang maging normal ang ating sitwasyon. Importante ngayon na ang mga empleyado ay manatili sa kanilang pinagtatrabahuhan,” he added.
Gatchalian reiterated his support to budding online sellers, especially those who lost their jobs during the ECQ. He again called on the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to temporarily spare small-time online sellers from taxation.
Instead of going after the small fry, Gatchalian has been urging the BIR to go after the big fish, such as the erring Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) who has yet to pay an estimated P50 to P70 billion worth of taxes.
“Ang hamon ko sa BIR, bakit hindi nila habulin ang POGOs na hindi nagbabayad ng buwis sa gobyerno. Kasuhan at ipakulong natin ang dapat ipakulong para magbayad sila. Habulin natin sila hindi lang puro tayo press statement,” Gatchalian said.