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Millions of Filipinos May Lose Their Jobs Due to COVID-19

DOLE says 5 to 10 million people could lose their jobs due to the nation's health crisis.
by Bernie V. Franco
May 21, 2020
The Department of Labor and Employment reports that more than 2 million Filipinos have been left jobless and millions more could lose their jobs due to the health crisis.
Photo/s: Jerome Ascano

If you're still working, thank your lucky stars.

Around 2.6 million Filipinos have already lost their jobs  because their companies had to close temporairily due to the COVID-19 crisis. 

And the number is expected to increase if the pandemic persists, said Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

Bello initially estimated that around five million workers would lose their jobs as the country continues to grapple with the ongoing health crisis.

"Our estimate is that we might lose about more than four to five million jobs. Karamihan po 'yan sa service sector.

"Malaki po ang tourism, yung allied businesses like restaurants, then transportation," Bello explained at the Senate hearing on COVID-19 updates, Wednesday, May 20.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto asked Bello if it is possible that the number of unemployment could reach to 10 million.

"I hate to say it but it's possible,” the DOLE secretary replied.

Recto seemed to agree with Bello since only half of the workforce in some companies were permitted to go back to work.

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In the same Senate hearing, Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat said the tourism industry in April had no revenue due to zero tourist arrivals.

She highlighted the fact that  the tourism industry alone provides jobs to more than five million Filipinos, or tentatively 15 percent of the country’s total employment.

The Philippines is a popular international tourist attraction for its pristine beaches and scenic islands.  

Romulo-Puyat added  the agency is expecting a 50-percent revenue drop by the end of 2020.

In a DOT report published in August 2019, the tourism sector generated around P245 billion in revenue from foreign visitors in the first six months of 2019.

Bello also mentioned at the Senate hearing that DOLE is planning to expand its Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) program in an effort to assist those who will lose their jobs.

The Labor secretary added that the agency has coordinated with the heads of the construction industry to create more jobs.

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Bello explained, "We have talked to the leaders of the construction industry that when they start implementing these contracts, they should increase their workers by 10 percent to 20 percent."

DOLE has also requested P 40-billion budget from Congress to be used in its recovery programs, Bello added.