DOLE sets aside P650m to cushion ill effects of El Niño

The Department of Labor and Employment said it has  earmarked  P649.81    million as emergency employment for farmers who would be displaced by El Niño’s onslaught in  the country’s farming industry.

“Mature, strong El Niño is now present in the tropical Pacific Ocean, which is likely to strengthen  before the end of 2015, and may last until May 2016,” Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said in citing the DOST-Pagasa report.

According to Pagasa, this episode will potentially be among the four strongest since 1950, and is expected to affect 67 provinces that will experience either dry condition, dry spell, or drought.

“DOLE’s main intervention is to provide emergency employment to affected workers. We have a budget of P649.81 million for this intervention,” Baldoz said.

The fund will be dispensed in the remainder of 2015 and in the first   quarter of 2016, she said.  

She said P316.86 million of the total budget is readied for allocation in the fourth quarter of 2015, while another P332.95 million is available for disbursement in the first  quarter of 2016.  

“With this emergency employment budget, we expect to assist 69,804 farmers across the regions,” the DOLE secretary added.

Among the priority beneficiaries of the DOLE’s emergency employment program are workers in the informal sector, such as farm laborers, and workers in the formal sector, comprised of agricultural and agri-business workers, specifically plantation workers; hired workers in farms, workers in agri-business whose inputs are primarily agricultural products; and farm workers not involved in rice production.

“The nature of the DOLE’s assistance is temporary wage employment, and the beneficiaries, aside from receiving the prevailing minimum wage in their respective areas, will be provided with group accident insurance, appropriate personal protective equipment, and orientation on safety and health prior to engagement to work. Possible work for emergency employment includes clearing activities, and repairs of infrastructure and irrigation projects,” Baldoz said.  

The DOLE convened with Pagasa and the National Economic and Development Authority, to draw up interventions that will address the needs of the affected workers.

“Those who wish to avail of intermediate to long-term source of income may access the livelihood component of the DOLE Integrated Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program or Kabuhayan Program according to their preferences/interests. Moreover, those who wish to build or enhance their capacities, either to prepare themselves as they get back to farm work, or venture in other livelihood undertakings, may avail of the Tesda skills training,” Baldoz said.

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