“Every start-up story has a bold beginning—a great anecdote that started them on the path to growth. And much like all other organizations, the country’s network of Public Employment Service Offices (PESO) is no exception. It was reared for success through years of consistent hard work, cooperation, and unrelenting spirit to serve the Filipino people.”
This is part of the message of Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz at the 15th National PESO Congress, now ongoing at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.
Recalling the milestones that shaped the PESO into a progressive and efficient employment facility, Baldoz said that even before Martial Law, and even before the employment component was incorporated in the Department of Labor’s name employment facilitation assistance in its early stage, was already there. “The Department has already been offering this service through its Office of Manpower Services,” she said.
In 1972, the DOL began to expand its services by creating several offices that would cater to the various employment needs local and overseas workers, as well as of those working in rural areas. These offices were the Bureau of Employment Services (BES), Overseas Employment Development Board (OEDB), and the Office of the Rural Workers (ORW). For seafarers, there was the National Seamen’s Board (NSB) which gave free placement services.
In 1986, the DOL established the Community Employment Center (CEC) to bring employment facilitation services to the grassroots. The operation of the CEC hinged on making supply and demand meet; thus, concentrated in provincial, municipal, and other rural areas, where unemployment is high, but work opportunities were abundant.
In 1991, under the leadership of former DOLE Secretary Ruben D. Torres, the CEC was transformed into the Public Employment Service Office (PESO). That year, the DOLE Regional/Field Offices in Cebu, Iligan. Laguna, and Angeles, Pampanga created their own PESOs—making them the first group of PESOs to be institutionalized.
“By that time, our PESOs have already assumed frontline roles in livelihood and manpower development; training; skills registry updating and maintenance; and labor marker information dissemination,” Baldoz said.
“However, the DOLE saw an urgent need to forge alliances with local partners to build a nationwide network of employment facilitation services providers. We empowered local government officials, from municipal mayors down to barangay captains, to set up PESOs in their jurisdiction,” she added.
In 1992, the DOLE, through then Regional Office No. 2 Director Arturo Sodusta, Jr., and then Bureau of Local Employment-Employment Service Division Chiefs Aida Estabillo and Grace Ursua conceptualized the PESO’s integration in local government units.
“The PESOs steeped up at a time when the country was recuperating from the effects of the volcanic eruption of Mount Pinatubo, where hundreds were killed, thousands of homes were damaged, and livelihood seemed impossible,” she recalled.
“The DOLE created the Task Force Pinatubo which gave a renewed sense of hope to the affected Mt. Pinatubo victims. It organized loose PESOs into informal associations to help address the economic impact of the disaster. This is where the first Jobs Fair took place,” she further remembered.
From there, the DOLE embarked on a series of activities, such as the first PESO managers training in Baguio City, immediately followed by the attendance of then Director Clifford Paragua to an employment training in Japan. The DOLE also already pushed for the adoption of a PESO-type employment service. DOLE Regional Office No. 2 launched the “One-Stop-Shop Kabuhayan Center” in Tuguegarao, Cagayan Province.
In 1993, the DOLE initiated the formation of PESO Phil., Inc. (PESOPhil)—an association of all PESO Managers across the country’s 16 regions. It also introduced the PESO Manual of Operations for employment services.
In 1995, the DOLE saw the importance of building up support between and among PESO officers and formed the PESO Managers Association (PMA) for the PESO Managers of NCR. Later in the year, PMA changed its name to PESO Association of Metro Manila (PAMM) and elected Edwin Tating of Quezon City (NCR) as its first President.
Also on the same year, the DOLE and PESOPhil held the 1st National PESO Congress at the Amigo Terraces Hotel in Iloilo City. The 2nd National PESO Congress in 1996 took place at the Young Men’s Christian Association in Manila.
In 1999, the Public Employment Service Act, a consolidation of Senate Bill No. 468 and House Bill No. 7127 was finally passed by the Senate on 15 December, and the House of Representatives on 16 December, respectively.
It was finally signed into law, as Republic Act 8759, on 14 February 2000 by former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada. DOLE Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma was in charge of the Department at that time.
The PESO Act of 1999 is in-line with the policy of the State to provide full and equal employment opportunities for all by strengthening and expanding the existing employment facilitation service machinery of the government, particularly at the local levels.
“One would think that PESOs have reached the summit of their efforts, after the signing of R.A. 8759, but for the PESOPhil, the work has just begun. The new law posed challenges that they successfully hurdled in the years following,” Baldoz said.
In 2003, the 3rd National PESO Congress was held at the Grand Menseng Hotel in Davao City. In 2004, the 4th National PESO Congress took place at the Grand Plaza Hotel in Bacolod City.
Thereafter, the DOLE and PESOPhil continued the tradition of hosting annual Congresses with varying themes:
2005—The 5th National PESO Congress, on the theme, “Matatag na PESO, Kaagapay ng Gobyerno,” was held at the Bohol Tropics Resort, Tagbilaran City. Peter Capital of Quezon City (NCR) was elected as the 1st PESOPhil President.
2006—The 6th National PESO Congress, on the theme, “PESO—May Bagong Lakas Para sa Matatag na Bukas,” took place at the Dynasty Hotel in Cagayan De Oro City. The first Search for Best PESO Awards was conducted.
2007—The 7th National PESO Congress, on the theme, “Pinalakas na PESO para sa Pagtaguyod ng Kabuhayan at Empleyo ng mga Pilipino,” was held at the Punta Villa Resort, Iloilo City, Aurora Zaportiza of Butuan City (CARAGA) was elected as the 2nd PESOPhil President.
2008—The 8th National PESO Congress, on the theme, “Kabuhayan at Trabaho, Sagot sa Pag-unlad ng mga Pilipino PESO Kaagapay,” was held at the Almont Hotel Inland Resort, Butuan City.
2009—The 9th National PESO Congress, on the theme, “Bridging the Employment Initiatives of Stakeholders for Community Development,” was held at the Oxford Hotel, Clark Field, Angeles City, Pampanga.
2010—The 10th National PESO Congress, on the theme, “Isang Dekadang Tagumpay, Tuwid na Landas ang Gabay,” was held at the Taal Vista Hotel, Tagaytay City. Elizabeth Alonzo of Bulacan was elected as the 3rd PESOPhil President.
2011—The 11th National PESO Congress, on the theme, “Disente at Produktibong Trabaho, PESO ang Kaagapay ng Estado,” was held at the Waterfront Insular Hotel, Davao City. At the time, there were already 64 Institutionalized PESO units and 114 school-based PESOs.
2012—The 12th National PESO Congress, on the theme, “Tugon ng PESO: Wastong Trabaho at Agarang Serbisyo,” was held at the Baguio Country Club in Baguio City.
2013—The 13th National PESO Congress, on the theme, “Kabalikat at Gabay sa Disente at Matatag na Paghahanap-buhay,” was held at the Oriental Hotel, Palo Leyte. Vissia Marie Aldon of Makati (NCR) was elected as the 4th PESOPhil President.
At the 12th National PESO Congress, participants adopted a resolution supporting the amendments to the PESO Act of 1999; and officials signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Governors’ League of Municipalities of the Philippines and League of Cities of the Philippines in support of PESO institutionalization.
On the same year, the PESOPhil changed its name to PESO Managers Association of the Philippines (PESOMAP).
2014—The 14th National PESO Congress, under the theme, “PESO for the ASEAN Integration, 2015 and Beyond,” was held at the KCC Mall Convention and Event Center, General Santos City. At the time, there were already 1,591 established PESOs, 1,097 operational and 331 institutionalized.
Baldoz said the nation celebrates this year 15 great years of the PESOMAP as frontline partner of the government in employment facilitation. “This year’s Congress will mark the crystal year for the annual conduct of the event and will write many firsts in PESO history,” she said.
The theme of the 15th National PESO Congress, “Pagdaloy ng Disenteng Trabaho at Maunlad na Megosyo, Kaagapay ang DOLE-PESO,” focuses on the PESO’s transformation into a multi-dimensional front-line institution, providing Filipinos not only with employment facilitation service, but also with livelihood, labor markets trends and information, training and other capability-building initiatives.
“In this Congress, we celebrate the PESOs’ successes. I am happy and proud to congratulate the PESOMAP officials and its networks of PESOs nationwide for their hardwork and continued drive to excel,” Baldoz said.