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AKO Bicol seeks employment assistance for rural areas

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Responding to President Rodrigo Duterte’s call for increased employment for the poor in rural areas, Ako Bicol party list re-filed a bill to offering employment opportunities and social benefits for unmarried heads of families of poor households in rural areas.

Ako Bicol said its Rural Employment Assistance Program (REAP) reconciles volunteerism and the unmet demand for manpower in various government projects.

“In effect, we hit two birds with one stone as our government pays the same wages it will pay private contractors, while giving our rural poor employment opportunities and also reducing the unemployment rate in our country,” said Rep. Rodel Batocabe.

The group said its bill was not passed into law in the last Congress as its counterpart bill in the Senate remained pending in the Committee of Social Justice, Welfare, and Rural Development.

Batocabe said the REAP worked in India, which he described as “a third-world country with an unemployment rate worse than ours.”

Under the bill, the head of household in rural areas may apply for volunteer work, and shall be given 45 to 90 days of employment to do unskilled manual labor in government projects.

The Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board shall ensure that these heads of poor household receive financial assistance equivalent to the minimum set by the Board.

Also, those who render services under REAP shall receive social security benefits from the Philippine Health Insurance Corp., Pag-IBIG Fund, and the Social Security System.