Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday said the DOLE, through its Bureau of Local Employment, has completed on schedule the series of orientation on the Special Program for Employment of Students (SPES) Integrated Manual of Operations for all DOLE regional directors, PESO managers, and implementers.
“The completion of the series of orientation on the Integrated Manual of Operation ahead of schedule is a positive development toward our efforts to make the SPES truly responsive and effective in facilitating the employment of poor, young Filipinos by preparing them for the realities of the workplace,” said Baldoz after she received a report on the conclusion of the orientation from DOLE Undersecretary Nicon F. Fameronag.
Fameronag, who delivered a message at the fifth and last edition of the SPES IMO orientation held at the Sunlight Hotel in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, said close to a hundred PESO managers, including DOLE field officers from five regions—Cordillera Administrative Region, Regions 3, 4-B, 9, 11, and 12 attended the orientation. The DOLE field officers were headed by Regional Directors Nathaniel Lacambra (CAR); Atty. Ana Dione (Region 3); Sisinio Cano (Region 9); Joffrey Suyao (Region 11); and Albert Gutib (Region 12); DOLE Region 4-B Regional Director Atty. Alvin Villamor was represented by Phillip Ruga, TSSD Chief.
The SPES is a program where students and out-of-school youth belonging to poor families are engaged and paid for temporary employment, in partnership with participating establishments, whether public or private. Their salaries or wages are based on the minimum wage in the area or the applicable hiring rate and are subsidized by the government in the form of education voucher.
“Since its implementation in 1993, SPES has become one of the more relevant and popular programs of government where poor but deserving young people are able to pursue and finish their studies and at the same time be exposed to the real world of work,” Baldoz said.
“Unfortunately, past implementers of the program have not come up with a manual that could guide them for uniform and effective implementation. What we had was only the implementing rules and regulations of the SPES law that each implementer could flexibly interpret according to the dictate of circumstances, context, and local situation, leading to confusion, complaints about delay, lack of transparency, petty graft, political patronage, and lately, adverse audit findings by the COA,” she explained.
With the integrated manual of operations, the labor and employment chief assured SPES stakeholders and implementers of more uniform and standardized SPES, clear process cycle times, and concise reporting mechanism.
“We have a definitive and comprehensive manual that SPES implementers can use as “bible” in carrying out the mandate of R.A. 9547, the law that amended the original SPES law, or R.A. 7323,” she said.
Secretary Baldoz expressed appreciation for the presence in the orientation of DOLE partners from the Congress of the Philippines who explained the relevance of the amendments to the SPES law and provided an update on the status of the SPES amendatory bill.
She expressed the hope that the 16th Congress could still pass the amendatory bill to the SPES law even if its remaining working days are only very short before it adjourns its third and final session next week.
She also said the DOLE is now developing a national computerized database so it can track the whereabouts and progress of 887,278 young Filipinos who have benefited from the program in the last five years.
Baldoz also hoped the incoming administration can build on the concrete gains of the SPES and continues to make it a major pillar of the DOLE’s employment facilitation program.
“Millions of poor, young Filipinos pin their hopes for a better future on the SPES, which not only enables them to earn an education, but also earns them experience which they can use when they join the world of work,” she said.
“This is why this orientation is very important. The SPES integrated manual of operation will undoubtedly clarify many issues, thus, relieve our implementers of administrative and operational kinks for a smooth and seamless SPES implementation,” she added.