Around four million Filipinos will potentially lose jobs this year due to the economic impact of COVID-19, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said on Wednesday.
"Siguro we will lose another 10% to 15% of our workforce... Four million [workers]," Bello said in a Senate hearing.
"It would be bigger but we're also looking at the possible resurgence of workers in the BPO [business process outsourcing], medyo nabalanse nila 'yung ating mawawalang trabaho," he added.
The planned full-blast implementation of the administration's "Build, Build, Build" program is also seen to catch displaced workers.
"We are expecting a resurgence also of employment in the construction industry," he said.
The Labor Force Survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority showed a record-high unemployment rate of 17.7% in the country last April. This is equivalent to 7.3 million jobless Filipinos.
Bello countered this, saying the figure was not reflective of the real situation.
He said that from January to June this year, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) received formal notices of temporary stoppage of operations of more than 2,100 business establishments which resulted in the job displacement of 90,000 workers.
"Mayroon din nag-submit sa amin na mga 196 business establishments [that] decided to stop permanently [their] operations," he added.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian inferred that the discrepancy in the figures between the DOLE and the PSA survey was due to the fact that not all employers notify the government when they lay off workers.
"I think this is because 'yung mga nag-a-apply lang po sa DOLE ang naka-capture po na nawawalan ng trabaho, pero sa tingin ko dahil marami rin tayong daily wage earner, mga probationary... hindi na ho sila nag-a-apply sa DOLE at inaalis na lang nila ang kanilang mga trabahador," he said.
To prevent the projected unemployment of four million Filipinos until the end of the year, Bello said the DOLE is pushing for a wage subsidy program for employers.
"We will talk to the employers, huwag kayong mag-dismiss, we will shoulder 25% to 50% of the salaries of your employees. This will help in protecting and preserving the employment of our workers," he said.
This proposed program would need a P40 billion budget, according to the DOLE chief. — BM, GMA News