House leaders back emergency employment program

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — House leaders yesterday expressed full backing to the move of the Arroyo administration to allocate a total of P10 billion funding for its emergency employment program that will provide new jobs and livelihood opportunities for workers affected by the global financial crisis as they batted for its institutionalization as part of the government’s medium and long-term poverty alleviation policy.

House Speaker Prospero C. Nograles and House Deputy Majority Leader Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara of Aurora said the government’s Comprehensive Livelihood Emergency Employment Program (CLEEP) will go a long way in providing relief for thousands of Filipino workers who were retrenched due to the global financial crisis.

“The CLEEP can become a permanent fixture of the government’s social reform and poverty alleviation policy with or without the global economic crisis,” Angara said.

Nograles and Angara issued the statement after President Arroyo has increased the CLEEP funding by another P1 billion which is being administered by the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC).

This raised the government’s CLEEP budget from P9 billion to P10 billion.

President Arroyo has instructed all members of her Cabinet to fast-track the implementation of government programs designed to strengthen the country’s economic competitiveness and ensure new jobs and livelihood opportunities for workers affected by the global financial meltdown.

Nograles said that with the creeping economic slowdown, it is necessary for the government to step in and put in place mechanisms to create new jobs because private businesses are now generally holding back their investments.

“Under the circumstances, it is only the government which can afford to spend,” Nograles said.

He said the CLEEP should involved employment-intensiv e programs such as irrigation and farm-to-market road projects,waste management, environmental protection and manufacturing.

According to Angara, the emergency employment program is expected to generate around 824,555 jobs as he acknowledged the government’s effort to come up with “doable and fundable livelihood projects.”

Angara, one of the major proponents of Credit Information System Act (CISA) in the House of Representatives, added the program will further promote microfinance as he underscored its importance in generating jobs and fostering entrepreneurship nationwide.

He also said that government agencies involved in the program should see to it that funding for the program will always be available, and that the NAPC will be able to ensure that the funding is spent wisely and judiciously.