City of San Fernando – With the aim of strengthening social protection for vulnerable workers, especially in calamity-stricken areas, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Regional Office No. 3, in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), with support from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Department of Agriculture (DA), recently facilitated the regional launching of the DOLE-DOST Convergence Program on technology-driven, resource-based, and sustainable livelihood in the provinces of Bulacan and Pampanga.
This convergence program, originally called Project RAY or Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda, according to DOLE Regional Director Raymundo G. Agravante, aims to provide sustainable livelihood and employment opportunities for wealth creation to benefit the poor, vulnerable and marginalized workers, workers displaced by natural and man-made calamities, and returning/displaced overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families in Typhoon Yolanda-hit areas.
Aside from Yolanda-hit areas, Agravante said that the DOLE-DOST Convergence Program has been adopted in other calamity-hit areas in the country as well.
In Central Luzon, Agravante report to Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz that the DOLE Field Offices of Pampanga and Bulacan, together with the other line agencies and the different Public Employment Service Offices (PESOs), facilitated the launching of this program through the initial release of livelihood assistance amounting to a total of P450,000.00 benefiting two (2) rural workers associations (RWAs) covering 362 vulnerable and marginalized workers.
Aside from the DOLE, the DOST and other line agencies provided their counterpart assistance in form of skills training, entrepreneurship development training, and other capability-building activities.
According to DOLE’s Technical Support and Service Division for Employment and Welfare head Nely Punzalan, the total livelihood assistance was distributed in the provinces of Bulacan and Pampanga.
In the far flung Brgy. Bayabas, Doña Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan, the DOLE Bulacan Field Office, under the supervision of Ma. Rima Hernandez, facilitated the release of P250,000.00 livelihood assistance to the Kooperatiba ng Pangmalawakang Paglilingkod ng Bayabas, Ink. (KPPBI) for its Squash (Kalabasa) Puree Processing Project which will benefit 292 members comprising marginalized and home-based women.
Meanwhile, in Pulong Camias, San Jose, San Simon, Pampanga, the DOLE Pampanga Field Office, under the supervision of Arlene Tolentino, facilitated the release of P200,000.00 livelihood assistance to the Augman Kababaihan ng San Simon, Inc. (AKSSI) for the livelihood-enhancement of their candle-making business which will benefit 70 members.
Under the convergence program, the DOLE shall identify target beneficiaries of the program; identify in-demand skills vis-à-vis available skilled individuals in the communities; enroll projects to the program; and provide funds. It shall also coordinate with the DA and DTI to be able to provide information on raw materials and current market demand.
The DOLE further commits, this year, to improve the delivery of its livelihood programs for 100,000 vulnerable workers, such as parents of child laborers, marginalized and landless farm workers, fishery workers, small transport workers, home-based workers, vendors, waste workers, and non-corporate construction workers.
The DOST, on the other hand, will provide scientific and technological skills, strategies, and assistance that beneficiaries can use; tap the Technology Resource Center (TRC), DOST’s corporate arm, to work on the business and livelihood programs interventions. For other technical requirements of the convergent program, the DOST shall tap its regional offices, councils, research and development institutes (RDIs).
Agravante, who led the releasing of livelihood assistance in both areas, urged beneficiaries to be proactive and effective in managing their livelihood.
“Sing-sarap ng kalabasa at sing-liwanag ng kandila, yan ang handog ng DOLE, kasama ang DOST at iba pang mga ahensiya ng gobyerno, ang ipagkaloob sa inyo ng tulong at dagdag pangkabuhayan. Sana po, pagyamanin natin ito upang lalong lumago ang inyong mga proyekto upang maingat ang antas ng inyong pamumuhay,” Agravante said.
A tearful AKKSI President Nelia Bais, who spoke on behalf of the beneficiaries, thanked the DOLE, DOST, and other line agencies for providing the much needed government intervention in improving their livelihood.
“Nagpapasalamat po kami nang marami dahil nandito po ang DOLE at ibang pang mga ahensya ng gobyerno upang kami’y tulungang umunlad at magkaroon ng kakayahang itaguyod ang aming mga pamilya sa pamamagitan ng tulong pangkabuhayan na ipinagkaloob po ninyo sa amin. Asahan po ninyo na gagawin namin ang lahat upang mapalago namin ito,” Bais said.
Meanwhile, KPPBI President Albert Velasquez assured that the DOLE-DOST Convergence Program will pave way for livelihood sustenance in their barangay.
“Ito na po ang simula ng pagkakaroon ng livelihood program na panghabambuhay dito sa atin. Lahat po ng mga magsasaka at residente ng Brgy. Bayabas ay makikinabang sa proyektong ito. Makaka-asa po kayo na kami’y magtutulong-tulong upang pagyamanin ito,” Velasquez said.
Aside from Bulacan and Pampanga, the DOLE, in coordination with the different Public Employment Service Offices (PESOs), will also be launching the convergence program for identified groups/beneficiaries in Brgy. Matawe,Dingalan,Aurora; Tala,Orani,Bataan; Brgy.Cuyapa,Gabaldon,NuevaEcija; Lapaz,Tarlac; and Tubo-TuboNorthandSouth,Sta.Cruz,Zambales.