Cagayan de Oro City—Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday expressed utmost gratitude to President Benigno S. Aquino III following the release by the Department of Budget and Management of the additional P168.1 million budget for the Department of Labor and Employment’s Special Program for the Employment of Students (SPES) program.

Baldoz, who is here on a two-day visit to meet with DOLE’s regional coordinating council officials, meet and dialogue with beneficiaries of the DOLE’s Integrated Livelihood Project, and deliver the keynote address at the 1st Regional Occupational Safety, Health, and Environment Summit being held at the Pearlmont Hotel, said the additional budget for the SPES program of the DOLE will benefit an additional 52,000 poor but deserving students up to December 31, 2011 nationwide.

“I am thankful to the President for the release of more money for this very important work appreciation program for poor, but deserving Filipino students. The additional money will go a long way in enabling SPES beneficiaries to earn tuition money for their college education,” said Baldoz.

Baldoz recalled that in his Labor Day 2011 speech, President Aquino promised the increase in the SPES budget, saying poor but industrious students who face the prospect of not being unable to enroll in college due to lack of funds deserve government assistance. He also promised to continue increasing the budget for the SPES program in 2012 as prescribed under the SPES law.

The labor and employment chief said that DOLE-Regional Office No. 10 will get a share of P13 million from the increase, bringing the total 2011 SPES budget for Northern Mindanao to P19 million.

DOLE_RO 10 regional director Atty. Allan Macaraya, who hosted Secretary Baldoz, said the additional SPES budget for his region will benefit more than 7,000 students. “This is very good news for students,” he said.

The additional budget of P168.1 million will bring the total budget for the SPES program for 2011 to P350.282 million, benefitting an estimated 136,000 student.

In view of the release of the additional und for the SPES, Baldoz directed all DOLE regional directors to plan for its immediate implementation starting September until December 2011, as the validity of the allotment is only till the end of the year.

The SPES program, mandated under Republic Act No. 7323, helps poor but deserving students pursue their education by encouraging their employment during summer and/or Christmas vacations.

SPES beneficiaries are paid by employers sixty percent (60%) of their salaries or wages and forty percent (40%) through education vouchers paid by the government. The program is open to all qualified high school, college, technology or vocational students or drop-outs and interested employers.

END/ joseph

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