By Gina V. Rodriguez
LEGAZPI CITY --- Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)-Bicol Director Exequiel R. Sarcauga said the agency has realigned its livelihood program in the region to prioritize areas needing a boost on alternative livelihood, particularly in the island province of Masbate.
He said during the last quarter of 2017 DOLE-Bicol has awarded a P9M worth of livelihood and emergency employment program for Masbate.
“The plan is to focus and increase our livelihood grants on these areas,” said Sarcauga who explained the awards were part of the comprehensive DOLE Integrated Livelihood and Emergency Employment, or DILEEP, Program that was mainly intended for the province.
He said the grant consisted of PHP.5-million worth of DOLE Kabuhayan Starter Kits or DKSK for beneficiaries in Milagros town and PHP8.75 worth of wages for emergency employment in San Fernando town.
Sarcauga said the DKSK grant was in the form of tools, materials and equipment needed by 50 beneficiaries in Milagros so they could earn income from skills as automotive technicians, dressmakers, electricians, plumbers and other trades.
On the other hand the award of wages for the emergency employment program was distributed to 826 beneficiaries under the Tulong Pangkabuhayan sa Ating Displaced/Disadvantage Workers or TUPAD program which covered 12 barangays in San Fernando.
Community works to be rendered by the beneficiaries under the TUPAD program consisted of declogging and desilting of canals, coastal clean-up, mangrove development and beach forest rehabilitation.
Rovelinda A. Dela Rosa, DOLE-Bicol assistant regional director, said that the grants were geared towards tourism development in Masbate. DOLE- Masbate, which is headed by Ma. Ella E. Verano, had seen to both DKSK and TUPAD’s implementation.
DOLE-Bicol officials said that for 2018 the agency is again expected to re-align its livelihood budget in which big amounts will be earmarked for areas in the region that are within the poverty threshold.
Dela Rosa said formal employment in such areas are difficult such that DOLE-Bicol’s intervention is either to develop alternative livelihood or provide emergency employment “to pump prime the local economy.”
Meanwhile, Sarcauga reported that 21 government interns under the Government Internship Program or GIP of DOLE-Bicol, who were deployed in DOLE-Catanduanes, have been absorbed in full-time jobs either in public or private offices in Virac, the capital town of the island province of Catanduanes, and in mainland Legazpi City in Albay.
“They were absorbed into formal employment and now they have full time jobs,” he said.
DOLE- Bicol records showed that the time of the absorption of the GIPs in the region in 2017 were not lumped in one month but distributed during the last six months of last year.
Dela Rosa said the report on the absorption of the GIP interns into formal employment is proof that the agency’s GIP program is an “effective training tool.”
Sarcauga said their record showed that it was not only in Catanduanes but in all the six Bicol provinces that its interns were placed in formal employment or absorbed by government agencies.
He added that DOLE-Bicol’s projected plans for 2018 secure the welfare of sugar workers through six major activities that include the conduct of an assessment of big sugar planters regarding their compliance to labor laws.
According to Sarcauga DOLE-Bicol is also aiming to “foster voluntary compliance” to labor laws with the sugar planters.