Pledging to work together in an undertaking to benefit poor, vulnerable, marginalized, and displaced workers, including returning or disadvantaged overseas Filipino workers, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), with the support of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Agriculture (DA), yesterday signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) outlining the two department's full commitment for the promotion, implementation, and advocacy of a convergence program to be implemented from 2014-2016.
Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz and DOST Secretary Mario G. Montejo signed the agreement at the Occupational Safety and Health Center in Quezon City, with DOLE and DOST top officials, including their regional directors, DA and DTI representatives, representatives of national labor organizations, and the media witnessing the event.
In a press conference that followed the signing, Secretaries Baldoz and Montejo said the general objective of the convergence program is to provide a menu of technology-driven and resource-based livelihood packages to poor, vulnerable, and marginalized workers, workers displaced by natural calamities, and returning OFWs and their families.
Immediately after the MOA signing and press conference, regional directors of the two departments sat down for a planning workshop and presentation of the consolidated regional action plans that will signal the agreement's start of implementation.
"This is the DOLE's and the DOST's contribution to the Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda (RA) Project, the government's strategic plan for the rehabilitation of typhoon Yolanda-affected areas," said Baldoz and Montejo.
Under the agreement, the DOLE as the national government agency mandated to promote gainful employment opportunities and develop the country’s human resource, shall identify target beneficiaries of the program; identify in-demand skills vis-à-vis available skilled individuals in the communities; enrol 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 DOST, on the other hand, as the premiere science and technology body in the country, 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
More importantly, the DOST shall provide the necessary technologies for people or group of people for potential technology transfer or adoption for business, as well as counterpart funding, in the form of technologies and innovations, technical assistance, experts’ man-hours, and the like.
Jointly, the DOLE and the DOST shall create a Project Management Office (PMO) in-charge of the overall management of the program; designate three officers from each department to serve as the coordinating body for the agreement's implementation; mobilize their concerned agencies and personnel identified to work on the program and the PMOs that may be subsequently created for specific projects.
The two agencies shall also implement other projects that will include employment and enterprise development of locally displaced workers, displaced or returning OFWs and their families, Typhoon Yolanda victims, self-employed and underpaid workers, and vulnerable workers, such as home-based workers, non-corporate construction workers, vendors, small transport workers, agricultural sector workers, and other informal sector workers.
“These times call for a concerted effort and united action. This is the right time to make a significant difference in the lives of our workers as they need us, the government agencies, to share a common goal of giving them the chance to start life anew,” Baldoz said, adding:
"This MOA is a full shift from the traditional approach of delivering the government's livelihood program to the people, for it focuses on available technologies and resources which our workers may use to improve their lives."