Baldoz hails private and public employers, PESOs as frontline SPES implementers; 200,000 beneficiaries to receive P1.250-B in minimum wage in 2014

Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday commended the country’s network of Public Employment Service Offices in all the country’s 16 regions for their enviable role as DOLE partner in the implementation of the popular DOLE program, the Special Program for the Employment of Students, or SPES.

She also hailed public and private sector employers for their participation in the SPES which have made it doubly successful.

“Our PESOs play an exemplary role in seeing to it that the SPES reaches the farthest corners of the country. They do the work of a frontline office for SPES and young Filipinos get to know about the SPES through the PESOs. Truly, the PESOs are our enviable partner in SPES services delivery,” said Baldoz.

“Of course, I am also very grateful to public and private employers who continue to participate in the SPES. Their role in the success of the SPES is also very significant because it is they who pay the 60 percent of the salaries of SPES beneficiaries,” she added.

Baldoz’s commendation of the PESOs and the public and private sector employers comes at the onset of the ‘SPES season’–summer–when students fresh from grinding school work and studies starts to look for something productive to do.

For these students, and even the school leavers, or out-of-school youth, Secretary Baldoz said the DOLE is ready for them with the SPES.

The 23-year old SPES program, mandated under R.A. 7323 to “help poor but deserving students pursue their education by encouraging their employment during summer and/or Christmas vacations,” is a pro-poor program, and has since become very popular, not only among the youth, but also among employers.

Started by the late President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino on 30 March 1992 when she signed R. A. 7323 into law, the SPES got amended on 1 April 2009 by R. A. 9547, otherwise known as “An Act Strengthening and Expanding the Coverage of the Special Program for the Employment of Students, Amending for the Purpose Provisions of R.A. No. 7323.”

“Based on this amended version of the SPES, the PESOs today function as the frontline implementers of SPES,” said Baldoz, who relates that the SPES got the special attention of President Benigno S. Aquino III when he assumed office in 2010.

“The President has mentioned the SPES many times in his policy pronouncements and starting in 2010, increased the budget of the program so that more young Filipinos can earn income for their education,” explained Baldoz.

Indeed, during the past three years, the number of SPES beneficiaries have grown to the highest levels, approaching almost half-a-million poor, but deserving, youths receiving employment bridging assistance during their summer or Christmas breaks from school.

In 2010, ‘SPES babies’, as beneficiaries are called, reached only 84,786 on a budget of P162.780 million.

Then in 2011, the number grew to 120,312 on a budget of almost double, P301.248 million, courtesy of the President who made good on his promise to increase the amount as long as he is leader of the country.

In 2012, SPES beneficiaries soared by 15.68 percent to 139,182 on a P341.037 million budget; and in 2013, by 20.39 percent to 167,569 on a budget of P453 million, posting a three-year cumulative total of 427,023 poor, but deserving, Filipinos armed with concrete hopes and a bridge to a successful future.

For 2014, Baldoz said the DOLE is reaching higher, with a target of 200,000 SPES beneficiaries expected to be benefited by its P500 million budget in the form of incomes which they can use for their studies in June.

“Our SPES accomplishment gives us optimal reason to believe that we would reach, if not surpass, the target,” she said.

To ensure this, Baldoz said the DOLE is actively campaigning for more employers to join the program.

The come-on, she said, is moral and material. “Employers participating in the SPES get to play a role in helping shape the future careers of hundreds of thousands of the Filipino youth.  In addition, they get rewarded in terms of paying only 60 percent of the wage of the SPES beneficiaries,” she explained.

Under the SPES, the DOLE pays the 40 percent, in checks, which the payee can cash for the payment of tuition and other school fees.

Baldoz said that with the 60 percent to be paid by employers, the total SPES money for 2014, together with the DOLE’s budget of P500 million, could easily come to to P1.250 billion.

“That’s substantial income for 22 to 52 days’ work of all SPES beneficiaries nationwide,” she said.

The SPES’s popularity has something to do with its accessibility. The program is open to all qualified high school, college or vocational students, and even school drop-outs who may apply with the nearest DOLE regional office or PESO in their areas. Baldoz stressed that as a pro-poor program, SPES requires that parents’ combined net income after tax, including his own, if any, does not exceed P36,000 per annum.

Students wishing to apply for SPES should be at least 15 to 25 years of age;  enrolled during the present school year/term or during the school year/term immediately preceding the summer vacation; and who  intends to continue his/her education (for school-leavers).  Furthermore, a student should have garnered a passing grade during the school year/term, or in case of a drop-out, the last year/term attended.

The requirements are simple: duly filled Registration Form 1 (3 copies) with ID pictures attached and attested by the school principal or registrar; any of the following to attest to age–birth or baptismal certificate, Form 138 where age is specified, or joint affidavit of two disinterested parties pertaining to applicant’s age; any of the following to attest to the students’ rating–Form 138 (High School Report Card), certification by school registrar that applicant has a passing grade during the previous semester/school year, certified true copy of the student’s class card where the  passing could be determined, and latest Income Tax Return (ITR) of the parents or a certification from the employer/union president that the parent of the applicant is to be displaced or have been displaced.

As a strategy to facilitate job matching and placement of workers which seeks to
enhance workers’ employability and enterprise competitiveness, a major goal of the DOLE, Baldoz said the SPES has proven to be a good and effective program.

“Just ask the many employers who have employed ‘SPES babies’ over the years why they keep on pledging every year to hire more students. Better still, ask the hundreds of thousands of students who have completed their education because of the SPES and you will know why the SPES is a very good program,” she challenged.
“The DOLE works to make it easy and fast for jobseekers to find jobs that fits their qualifications, interests, and career inclinations. This is why the DOLE has the SPES,” she finally said.


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