Rural poor to get temporary jobs

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THE head of family or single adult member of poor families in rural areas can have temporary jobs as manual laborers with the approval on Tuesday on third and final reading of House Bill 7266 or the proposed “Rural Employment Assistance Program Act”.

Under the proposed “Rural Employment Assistance Program Act” that was approved by 228 House members, those qualified to get jobs are those identified by the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

The bill mandates the DSWD to implement the Rural Employment Assistance Program in coordination with local government units (LGUs). Participants in the program can volunteer to do unskilled manual work for 45 to 90 days in every calendar year.

Every head of family or single adult member of a poor family in the rural areas who are qualified under the program shall be entitled to receive for each day of work an employment assistance equal to the applicable minimum wage set by the Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board in the region.

Rural areas, as defined in the bill, are those barangays which have a population size of less than 2,500. Barangays without an establishment with 25 or more employees, or five or more establishments with a minimum of 10 employees, or five or more facilities within the two kilometer radius from the barangay hall, are also classified as rural areas.

Meanwhile, the bill refers to the poor as individuals and families whose income fall below the poverty threshold as defined by the government and/ or cannot afford in a sustained manner to provide their minimum basic needs of food, health, education, housing, and other essential amenities of life or those who have been identified as poor by the NHTS-PR.

To determine who are eligible for the employment program, the DWSD, in close coordination with the LGUs and other concerned agencies, shall assess all poor individuals and families in rural areas who signified interest to do unskilled labor.

The works and activities to be offered to eligible poor individuals and families may include 1) development and re-building of agri-based livelihood assets destroyed or lost due to natural disasters such as desilting of irrigation canals, development of paddy dikes, and rehabilitation of water impounding; 2) rehabilitation and/or development of common service facilities which are being shared and used by poor families as production or consolidation centers/units such as post-harvest facilities and public markets; 3) development or rehabilitation of physical assets to open up access to natural assets where the former is necessary to bring out the products of poor families to the market such as farm-to-market road, slope protection, and bridges; and 4) protection of productive assets through mitigation measures such as mangrove planting/rehabilitation, tree planting, and the like.

Among the authors of the bill are Reps. Rodel Batocabe, Alfredo Garbin, Jr., Christopher Co, Gary Alejano, Deogracias Ramos, Wilter Wee Palma II, Ma. Lourdes Aggabao, Allen Jesse Mangaoang, Ma. Lourdes Acosta-Alba, Elisa Kho, Fernando Gonzales and Orestes Salon.

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