More than 340 workers gained sustainable employment and income from core community enterprises in poverty-free zones (PFZs) established throughout the country, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) today said.

Another 510 workers benefited from other livelihood support projects that were also established in PFZs.

Labor and Employment Secretary Patricia A. Sto. Tomas said that in the first six months of 2004 alone, a total of 20 PFZ project sites have been established in some of the country’s poorest communities that were identified by the DOLE.

She disclosed that workers in PFZ sites with core community enterprises (CCE) have earned more than P2.3million in the first 6 months of 2004 while those involved in other livelihood projects had an income of close to P6 million during the same period.

CCE are livelihood undertakings that are identified with or common to the target community and wherein resources needed for the project can be easily sourced from within the community.

The PFZ project was established in line with the Arroyo administration’s thrust of alleviating poverty through productive endeavors. It aims primarily to increase the income of beneficiaries through sustained livelihood and other income-generating activities in the country’s hard-pressed areas.

The DOLE has been providing PFZ beneficiaries with various assistance packages including training and seminars, establishment of market links for the beneficiaries’ products, conduct of exhibits, and selling activities. It also assists beneficiaries in areas such as development of project proposals and merchandising.

Sto. Tomas said that DOLE’s partnership with local government units, workers’ organizations, government agencies, and non-government organizations in the different regions in the country has succeeded in making the PFZ program a shining success.

She added that the program has also succeeded in having the beneficiaries utilize products that are uniquely their own and embark on productive activities that are familiar to them.

Sto. Tomas stressed further that more PFZ sites are being identified and established in other parts of the country to help improve workers’ income.

Late last year, beneficiaries from 11 PFZ sites in nine regions exhibited and sold their produce specifically Regions 1 (tigergrass brooms); 3 (pickled products); 4 (bamboo accessories); 6 (pandan bags and bamboo furnitures); 7 (fresh flavored milk and pastilles); 8 (sinamay products and ceramics); 9 (coconut palm wood and woven yakan cloths); and the Cordillera Administrative Region (cambulon wines and candies). The exhibit and selling generated more than P100,000 in sales.

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