ON top of the health problems posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the country has had to face other problems, many related to the national economy and to the basic needs of livelihood among the people.
The pandemic has started to ease in our country, largely through the imposition of government restrictions that limited contacts between people that allow the virus to jump from one person to another through aerosols in the breath of infected people.
Vaccinations will hasten the process of eliminating the danger.
But the rich nations have been able to corner most of the still limited supply of vaccines in the world. The Philippines will start receiving some this month, partly with the assistance of the World Health Organization, but not in substantial numbers. With our 110-million population, many of our people are likely to get vaccine protection only by next year.
In the meantime, the process of national economic recovery must proceed. Our closed industries and businesses must start reopening, so that the millions of people who lost their jobs this past year can start going back to work.
The problem of providing for livelihood for our people, unfortunately, is being worsened this year by a substantial increase in the country’s labor force, as the first batch of students in the K-to-12 education program will be graduating in 2022, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said last Friday.
He spoke at the launching of a National Employment Recovery Strategy Task Force, aimed at creating employment opportunities at this time of the pandemic. The task force includes officials of a major part of the government bureaucracy – the Departments of Labor and Employment, Trade and Industry, Transportation, Tourism, Budget and Management – along with Education, Interior and Local Government, Social Welfare and Development, Science and Technology, Technical Education and Skills Development.
The task force will concentrate on the generation of job opportunities. Some will be set up within the government structure, but a great deal of effort will go into supporting existing and emerging private businesses. “We are looking forward to a stronger engagement with our shareholders in the private business sector, labor and employer groups, so that as one, we heal, recover, and enjoy the fruits of a recharged and reinvigorated labor market,” said Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.
We look forward to the efforts of this task force. In the total effort for national recovery, the government is striving to revive the national economy.
But it has now launched a special program focused on the needs of the people, most especially their most basic need for employment and livelihood.