Public work programs(PWP) can be a promising government instrument in addressing unemployment and poverty in developing countries such as the Philippines. Toward this end, the study seeks to examine the effectiveness of the two PWPs-the Tulong Panghanapbuhay para sa Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) and Cash-for Work-using the Social Protection Public Work Programs Assessment Tool or “PWP Tool”. Due to the mobility restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the study’s methodology has been limited to desk research, particularly analysis of pertinent issuances. Scrutiny of both the programs’ design and components through their guidelines revealed that while both satisfy to some extent the prescribed key areas under the PWP Tool, they fall short on inclusivity, complaint mechanism, graft prevention measures, and transparency. In this light, the study recommends that both PWP guidelines be reviewed and amended accordingly to include specific provisions on the promotion of inclusiveness among vulnerable workers particularly women; on handling complaints and addressing corrupt practices; and screening meaningful projects and activities under both PWPs. Additionally, the study proposes the conduct of periodic impact evaluations to determine whether desired outcomes are achieved, commissioning of an external community oversight or conduct of social audits, and enactment of a legislation that will institutionalize an employment guarantee scheme in the Philippines. Finally, when formulating PWPs, it is vital to always treat PWPs not as separate and fragmented government interventions, but as parts and parcels of social protection system.
Read more: A Study on Public Work Programs for Better Labor Market Outcomes: The Cases of TUPAD and...
As the COVID-19 pandemic sinks economies around the world leading to record rates of unemployment, politicians, scholars, and other key actors across the ideological spectrum have increasingly turned their attention to basic income guarantee. Against the backdrop of growing international policy interest in basic income as a pathway toward equitable and transformative social protection systems, this study seeks to present a preliminary analysis of the prospects of implementing a basic income guarantee in the Philippines. The study is chiefly based on desk review of normative literature on social protection and development. It examines theoretical arguments for and against basic income drawing upon relevant empirical evidence where necessary. The findings indicate that, while there is limited international experience for benchmarking a prospective basic income guarantee, the current pandemic makes a compelling case for introducing the scheme as a platform for channeling immediate crisis response. In the medium-term, basic income guarantee can be an important policy instrument for tackling 21stcentury risks and vulnerabilities, including inequality, economic insecurity, precarity, technological disruption, and ecological degradation. Ultimately, basic income guarantee should be seen as a new form of transformative social protection focusing on addressing structural gaps such as asymmetrical wealth distribution as opposed to the prevailing residualist model, in which efforts are more targeted at the individual constraints of the ‘needy but deserving’ rather than the elimination of broader societal inequalities. Since it will entail enormous costs, innovative and progressive funding mechanisms, comprising of wealth taxes and carbon taxes among others, must be seriously considered to maximize the full potential of basic income in achieving the goal of ensuring a universal and transformative social protection. In view of institutional and political challenges, the most viable way to initiate a basic income guarantee in the Philippines is to carry out a pilot, tapping government agencies like SSS and GSIS, which have technical and administrative capacities for payment delivery. A top-up approach, which will allow basic income to complement established social protection programs, may also be explored since this is less complicated and found to be more effective in terms of reducing poverty. The pilot can also generate public discourse and potential support for large-scale implementation of basic income guarantee.
Read more: Exploring a BIG Idea: Prospects and Challenges of a Basic Income Guarantee in the Philippines
With global unemployment, disruption of supply chains and economic slowdown due to the continuous spread of COVID-19, job retention schemes such as wage subsidy aims to cushion enterprises and workers against immediate losses. Using relevant literatures and country practices, enriched with insights from various groups, this exploratory study aims to contribute inputs and options to policymakers for a wage subsidy program and draws lessons for its implementation and opportunities for future institutionalization. Many countries have implemented temporary wage subsidies in this time of pandemic. Many governments, mostly from advanced countries have modified existing wage subsidy programs or introduced new schemes. Like any program, it involves decisions with respect to a number of policy parameters. Ultimately, the design depends on the regulations and institutional capacities of governments and its ability to implement in the shortest possible time, to complement with other interventions.
Read more: Wage Subsidy Program: An Exploratory Study in the Philippines
This paper examines the progress of the ITBPO industry in advancing mental health in their workplaces as envisaged under Republic Act 11036. Using an online survey of HR officers and/or management representatives complemented by key informant interviews, the study looked into the extent and nature of mental health policies, programs, and services in companies; the challenges they faced in developing and implementing those interventions, especially amid the pandemic; and the opportunities for structural reforms around mental health. Seventy-eight (78) respondents from various subsectors and mega-cities joined the survey. The results revealed several findings. First, respondents observed among their employees a reinforcing triad of chronic stress (70.5%), sleeping difficulties (56.4%), and reduced work performance (50%). Despite this, a gap was noted between the magnitude of those concerns and the extent of actual conditions with diagnosis reported by employees. Next, companies appear to be on hugely different levels of institutionalization of mental health, with only 10 percent having an entirely separate policy. Without a solid foundation, this brings the quality of interventions into question. Indeed, most interventions were limited to the area of mental health promotion, while prevention and treatment significantly lag. Besides capacity issues, the required cost tends to primarily explain such trends, supported by another finding showing three in four companies are still without full financing scheme. Finally, companies perceive the high cost of services, exclusionary practices by HMO providers, poor public investment in health, and stigma and discrimination to be the topmost structural factors to probably hinder the headway they made so far. Given those findings, the paper recommends the following: for employers to conduct mental health and psychosocial needs assessment among their employees, for the DOLE to provide needs-based technical assistance to ITBPO companies, and for the national government to boost investment in mental health services.
Read more: Between Resilience and Transformation: Mental Health Policies, Interventions, and Challenges in...