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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian urged the economic managers of the Duterte cabinet to allot more stimulus on the labor market to ensure job preservation of Filipinos amid proposed extension of the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act.

Gatchalian said the government should spend more on job preservation in the light of the record-breaking unemployment rate in the country since strict quarantine measures took effect amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The senator made the remarks as he lamented that the unemployment rate jumped by an all-time high of 17.7 percent in April 2020.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported earlier this month that there are 7.3 million unemployed Filipinos as of April 2020.

Gatchalian, vice-chair of the Senate committee on economic affairs, explained that there is a big debate now on what stimulus package will be prioritized under the proposed extension of the Bayanihan Act.

Gatchalian vowed to fight for a bigger stimulus package that will ensure preservation of jobs of millions of Filipinos.

Citing his office’s internal projection, Gatchalian stressed the government will need an estimated P301 billion to create direct and indirect jobs for those impacted by the COVID-induced economic crisis for the rest of the year.

“Kung itong pandemiyang ito ay tatagal, mahalaga na mapanatili ng milyong-milyong manggagawa ang kanilang trabaho. Kung ang isang kumpanya ay wala namang kinikita, dito ngayon papasok ang ating gobyerno. Ang gobyerno ang tutulong sa mga kumpanya upang mapanatili ang kanilang mga empleyado,” said Gatchalian.

“Importante na makatawid tayo hanggang maging normal ang ating sitwasyon. Importante ngayon na ang mga empleyado ay manatili sa kanilang pinagtatrabahuhan,” he added.

He explained that the biggest chunk of unemployed Filipinos can be found in the Bangsamoro Administrative Region in Muslim Mindanao (29.8 percent), followed by Central Luzon (27.3 percent) and Cordillera Administrative Region (25.3%).

In terms of subsectors, Gatchalian said the largest reduction in employment was felt in the arts, entertainment, and recreation with 54 percent, followed by electricity, gas, steam, and air conditioning supply with 43.1 percent, and information and communication with 40.6 percent.

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