No development policy is sound that does not put the greatest number of people at the front and center. Wealth that is enjoyed only by the few is no better than poverty for it breeds inequality, fosters social exclusion and creates a divide that takes generations to close. The Philippine Government is committed to promote the development of all sectors of Philippine society, starting with those who are disadvantaged and vulnerable – women, children, the elderly, persons with disabilities and the youth. We committed to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, our action plan for our people and our planet, and we are serious about keeping the promise to leave no one behind. The Philippine Development Plan (2017-2022) is geared towards achieving Ambisyon (Our Vision) 2040, a collective aspiration of the Filipino people to build a society where no one is poor, and where people live long healthy lives in safe, inclusive and vibrant communities.
The adoption of social protection policies and programs is key to empowering the people and ending poverty. The National Economic Development Authority adopted the Social Protection Operational Framework which includes labor market interventions, social insurance, social safety nets and social welfare as its components. And considering our country’s vulnerability to the effects of climate change, it is imperative that our social protection programs also include strategies to mitigate risks caused by climate change and natural disasters.
Consistent with the goal to achieve inclusive growth and prosperity, the Government continues to improve and innovate policies and mechanisms to address the needs of the workforce. As of October 2018, the country’s employment rate is at 94.9% with a labor force participation rate of 60.6%.
The Two-tiered Wage System defines the policy space for minimum wage-setting and the strategy for promoting productivity and gain-sharing. The first tier is an approach that sets the minimum wage above the poverty threshold to help workers and their families meet basic needs; but not to exceed average wage so as not to crowd out the space for bipartite approaches in setting better terms and conditions of employment. The second tier is a strategy to encourage the workers and enterprises to voluntarily and jointly adopt productivity incentive schemes to improve business performance and yield higher gains which is fairly and equitably shared by workers and management. It is a strategy to increasingly tighten the link between pay and productivity, the latter being a more sustainable source of higher real income for workers, in addition to the mandatory minimum wage. Wage-setting in the Philippines is done at the regional levels and area-wide consultations and briefings are conducted by the Department of Labor and Employment. For domestic workers, minimum wages as well as social insurance coverage is mandated by law.
Social insurance coverage for all workers, including those working overseas, is continually being pursued. The Social Security Services implements innovative programs so that even workers in the informal sector would be covered. As of October 2018, 107,260 workers in the informal sector have social insurance coverage.
To diminish the negative impact of job losses, the Department of Labor provides transitional emergency employment through the Emergency Employment Program. This is a community-based assistance package that provides emergency employment for displaced workers for a minimum of 10 days and a maximum of 30 days, depending on the nature of the work. This program is accessible by those who were self-employed but have lost their source of income due to natural or man-made disasters.
The Philippines partnered with the Government of Canada and the Asian Development Bank to launch Jobstart Philippines, an employment facilitation program that seeks to assist young people start their careers and find meaningful paid employment. Jobstart Philippines is a full-cycle employment facilitation service which includes registration and client assessment, life skills training with one-on-one career guidance, job matching, technical training, and referrals of beneficiaries for internship or wage employment in an establishment.
With the third youngest population in the Asia Pacific, the Philippines recognizes the urgency to leverage the demographic dividend. Through the National Youth Commission, the Philippine Government implements the Philippine Youth Development Plan (PYDP) 2017 – 2022. Under this plan, the youth are guaranteed participation in the areas of health, education, economic empowerment, social inclusion and equality, governance, active citizenship, peace-building and security, the environment and global mobility. This Youth Development Plan is anchored on the SDGs and the ASEAN Youth Goals. To guarantee the youth access to education, Congress legislated in 2016 the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act which removed all tuition fees from public colleges and universities and from state-run technical vocational institutions.
To reduce the challenges of youth unemployment, the Government passed the Youth Entrepreneurship Law to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit of young people. Education and specialized trainings in the field of finance and management are provided to the youth to equip them to start or grow their businesses. Mentoring and coaching programs are set up with eligible entities to facilitate sharing of technical knowledge and technology or skills transfer. Grants and loans are also provided to the youth in order to achieve the objectives of this law. Young people may also access negosyo centers established in every town by the GoNegosyo Act. These centers are information and service-oriented hubs that can assist youth entrepreneurs in business conceptualization, feasibility studies, marketing and human resources concerns.
As it cares for its young people, so does the State care for its elderly, persons with disabilities and the poor. To ensure the development and realization of human rights of these vulnerable sector, the government implements various programs including conditional cash transfer programs aimed at achieving the development goals of eradicating hunger, achieving universal primary education, reducing child mortality and improving maternal health care. The Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) is the Philippines’ biggest social protection program for the needy that operates in 41,620 villages and 1,627 cities and municipalities nationwide. Beneficiaries of this program are provided access to economic opportunities and equipped with necessary skills to compete in the production and labor markets and ultimately improve their lives.
Madam Chair, our people share in the collective hope that we all will achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The Philippines is committed to this end and determined to work with the UN and with other Member States to find solutions to the challenges that keep us from realizing our hope.