Co-Sponsorship Speech of Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda: House Bill No. 4488 under Committee Report No. 10

November 8, 2022

Co-Sponsorship Speech of

Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda

House Bill No. 4488 under Committee Report No. 10


 08 November 2022


President, my dear colleagues, I respectfully request my fellow Senators’ consideration of the 2023 budgets of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), which includes Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

The past two years have been challenging for many of us. The COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to an unprecedented level of societal disruption. The world was faced with enforced lockdowns, restricted movements, and a prohibition on traveling. With the global economy at a standstill, industries were devastated, and millions of jobs were lost.

As of November 7, 2022, the virus has affected more than 4 million individuals and claimed the lives of more than 64 thousand. The country’s poverty incidence also rose to 23.7% in the first half of 2021 from 21.1% in the same period of 2018. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) fell by the worst contraction of GDP since World War II, falling by 9.5% in 2020.[1]

At the onset of the pandemic, the Philippine government responded with a 4-pillar socio-economic strategy against COVID-19: (1) fiscal measures which provided emergency support for vulnerable groups, which include Bayanihan I, Bayanihan II, and the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act; (2) monetary and macro-financial measures to gather resources to fight Covid-19; (3) monetary actions to keep the economy afloat and other financing support for emergency response and recovery initiatives; and (4) an economic recovery program to create jobs and sustain growth, which waived certain permits, licenses, or other requirements to fast-track high impact investments and create jobs.[2]

As we overcome the health crisis and implement economic relief measures, we prepare to provide essential funds and protect livelihoods in the face of abrupt income losses. The sub-committee report aims to promote security and build back better by assessing measures that focus on potential targets for stimulus spending that may offer near-term benefits in terms of job creation and long-term outcomes for sustainability and resilience.


Department of Labor and Employment

For the DOLE, which includes the TESDA, the sub-committee recommended a 2023 Budget of Php 49.223 billion.

Throughout the pandemic, the International Labor Organization (ILO) reported that in 2020, one-quarter of the total employment in the country, or about 10.9 million workers, would face prolonged job disruption.[3]

In September this year, the Labor Force Survey (LFS) of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that the unemployment rate stood at 5%, or 2.50 million unemployed Filipinos,[4] with 18.1 percent of the population, or around 19.99 million Filipinos, living below the poverty threshold.[5]

With the prevailing challenges in the economy—a 7.7% inflation rate in October 2022[6] and a Php 13.517 trillion debt as of September 2022[7]—the DOLE contributes through various interventions such as employment, training, and livelihood to fortify the capacity and income-earning ability of individuals and families.

These include immediate policy responses that can help ease the financial burden accompanying reduced work hours and help sustain household consumption. These responses also ensure basic social and economic protection during the crisis and recovery phases.

 The recommended budget allocation of the DOLE is as follows:

a. Php 27.252 billion for the Office of the Secretary;

b. Php 55.586 million for the Institute for Labor Studies (ILS);

c. Php 275.591 million for the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB);

d. Php 1.383 billion for the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC);

e. Php 271.402 million for the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC);

f. Php 1.750 billion for the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC); and

g. Php 18.236 billion for the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

In the identification of Livelihood and Emergency Employment Programs, for the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged or Displaced Workers (TUPAD) beneficiaries in particular, the DOLE shall give priority to the following, in the order of preference: (i) indigent families under the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction; (ii) informal sector families; (iii) those under the next lower poverty level, as determined by DSWD, which now includes, as an amendment, (iv) indigenous people; (v) agrarian reform beneficiaries; and (vi) women who do unpaid care and domestic work, as they, too, may be considered as vulnerable members of society.

The DOLE has attained a utilization rate of 95.56 percent, or Php 19,408,748,690.92 out of Php 20,310,469,636.72 allotments. The unutilized amount of Php 901,720,945.80 or 4.44 percent for the implementation of the three regular programs, namely: TUPAD, DOLE Integrated Livelihood Program (DILP), and Government Internship Program (GIP), was able to employ 3,008,494 beneficiaries, thus achieving DOLE’s contribution to the government’s agenda of inclusive growth through massive job generation and poverty reduction.[8]

For TESDA, we distributed a portion of the lump-sum amount under the Central Office to the Regional Offices to support TESDA to decentralize the funds and improve its rate of utilization of its budget.

The distribution of Training for Work Scholarship Program (TWSP), Special Training for Employment Program (STEP), Tulong Trabaho Scholarship Program (TTSP) and Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (UAQTEA) takes into consideration the regional underemployment, unemployment, job vacancies, absorptive capacity, poverty incidence, number of scholars and other criteria to ensure equitable distribution among regions.

TESDA is in a leading position to help the government improve the lives of the poor and reduce poverty in the country. Through TESDA, government agencies and private organizations collaborate in providing training packages that complement and address the needs of a certain community. The introduction of innovative ways to enhance skills and provide additional learning is consistent with TESDA’s objectives of social equity for workforce inclusion and poverty reduction.

From 2018 to September 2022, TESDA has had 7.68 million Technical-Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Enrollees, 7.13 million TVET graduates, and a 93.1% certification rate.

At the beginning of the pandemic, PSA reported that unemployment peaked at 17.7% in April 2020, with 7.3 million Filipinos out of the workforce.[9] The following year in August, the unemployment rate improved to 8.1%, or equivalent to 3.88 million people.[10] However, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) observed that while the rate of unemployment has improved, low-quality jobs are emerging. The increasing number of self-employed individuals and people in the informal sector was deemed to be less stable. The pandemic has affected 1.7 million wage and salary jobs in private establishments, whereas employment in the informal sector rose to about 435,000.[11]

My dear colleagues, it is within our mandate to enact a policy that will address the intergenerational poverty that has become a major constraint in achieving sustainable growth and the overall development of our country. It is imperative that, in support of the budget of DOLE and its attached agencies, we ensure that we determine the root causes of problems in labor in order to identify appropriate solutions.


Department of Foreign Affairs

The sub-committee submitted the 2023 Budget of the Department of Foreign Affairs at Php 20.48 billion, an additional Php 181.48 million from the Php 20.30 billion proposed budget in the GAB.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also shown the value of international cooperation and collaboration. The many ties between nations create collective health risks that are difficult to manage independently. The economic and social costs are further evidence of a shared fate. Agreeing on global rules and standards supports consistency of information, helps promote effective practices, and forms the basis for shared understanding and mutual trust.

The interdependence of trade and travel exposes mutual vulnerabilities, so it is essential to emphasize that cooperation at various levels—bilateral, regional, and international—is crucial to effectively allowing nations to enhance alert systems, data sharing, research, as well as the production and distribution of medical and public health countermeasures.

We also face national, regional, and global security issues such as the increasing challenges brought about by climate change, ongoing conflicts around the world, as well as global economic challenges. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is realizing the country’s foreign policy objectives by preserving national security, promoting economic security and cultural diplomacy, and ensuring the safety and welfare of Filipinos overseas.

Diplomacy facilitated vaccine procurement and secured humanitarian assistance worth approximately 23.409 million US dollars as of 14 September 2022 from international partners.

Through the DFA, we have gained international support for the Arbitral Award on the South China Sea, as well as protection for our migrant workers in the campaign to reform the Kafala system in Gulf countries and provide assistance to our working kababayans

The DFA was crucial in facilitating the COVID-induced repatriation of 462,065 overseas Filipinos and the provision of assistance to stranded migrants and tourists at the height of the pandemic. Even during the ongoing transition to the newly established Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), the DFA also assisted in bringing home 451 overseas Filipinos from Ukraine, 70 from Sri Lanka, and 350 from Kuwait. It is worth mentioning that the DFA assists the needs of our migrant workers in instances where the presence of the Office of the DMW is not available. The DFA continues to extend appropriate assistance to overseas Filipinos in distress through the Assistance to Nationals and Legal Assistance Fund.

Colleagues, the men and women of the DFA, some 2,866 strong, serve as the representatives of the Philippine government abroad and safeguard the welfare of some 10.689 million Filipinos overseas.

Thus, I propose that the DFA’s FY2023 GAB allocation be increased by an additional Php 181.48 million to augment the needs of the Philippine Studies Program, provisions of consular service, including the issuance of passports, visas, and other consular documents and International Commitments Fund. The additional budget will be lodged under the Office of the Secretary.

We have forged partnerships with several countries, like Germany, Spain, and Singapore, for the Philippine Studies program, and these provide access to other nationalities to study Philippine culture and society.

The proposed budget allocation of the DFA is as follows:

a. Office of the Secretary, from Php 20.175 billion to Php 20.356 billion;

b. Php 65.716 million for the Foreign Service Institute;

c. Php 3.083 million for the Technical Cooperation Council of the Philippines;

d. Php 22.743 million for the UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines; and

e. Php 37.251 million for the Presidential Commission for Visiting Forces.

My dear colleagues, let us support the budget of the DFA to strengthen its position for the protection and promotion of the interests of the Filipino people around the world.

With that, I humbly ask for plenary consideration of the 2023 budgets of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). I earnestly hope that these will merit the approval of this august chamber.

Maraming salamat po.










[8] LBRMO DOLE Briefer