Senators puzzled by ARMM’s low unemployment rate

February 26, 2014 6:42 am 

By Jelly F. Musico

MANILA, Feb. 25 (PNA) – The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is considered the poorest region in the country but its low unemployment rate has bewildered two senators.

”It’s surprising that ARMM, being the poorest region, has low unemployment rate. Can you tell me why?,” Senator Juan Edgardo Angara asked Department of Labor and Employment officials present during the Senate hearing on a bill amending the Public Employment Service Office (PESO) law on Tuesday.

”I don’t know, your honor. Perhaps due to some factors,” DOLE Assistant Secretary Joji Aragon replied.

Senator Jinggoy Estrada, chairman of the Senate committee on labor, employment and human resources development, said the residents affected by typhoon "Yolanda" should look for jobs in ARMM.

”Perhaps we should ask residents of Region 8 which have been severely damaged by Yolanda to transfer in the ARMM and look for jobs there. Are there manufacturing firms there that contributed to low unemployment?,” Estrada asked.

The DOLE reported that while poverty incidence remains high in the ARMM, the region is one of the regions with lowest unemployment rate at 4.6 percent.

The ARMM is composed of five provinces, including Lanao del Sur which posted the highest poverty incidence at 68.9 percent and Maguindanao at 57.8 percent in 2012. Other provinces are Sulu, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi.

Alagon said Region 8 has the highest unemployment rate at 11 percent even before Yolanda ravaged the region followed by the National Capital Region (NCR) with 10.6 percent and Region 3 with 9 percent.

With this, the DOLE has supported the passage of the bill amending the PESO Act of 1999.

As of Tuesday, the labor department has put up 149 PESOs throughout the country although only 40 of them have been institutionalized with the help of the local government units (LGUs).

Estrada said the bill will boost the institutionalization of the remaining 109 PESOs, specifically in the fourth- up to sixth-class municipalities.

The lawmaker admitted that funding remains the contentious issue of the bill.

”We will not approve yet this bill. We have to convene a technical working group to discuss this contentious issue,” Estrada said. (PNA)

SCS/JFM

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