Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume IV, Number 10 April 4 - 10, 2004 Quezon City, Philippines
can graduation be a cause for celebration when most of those unemployed are
actually fresh graduates and those fortunate enough to be employed have to make
do with low wages amid high cost of living?
DANILO ARAÑA ARAO
For students and parents, graduation is a cause for celebration. Who wouldn’t be relieved to know that after years of study and the ordeal of having to pay high tuition, the diploma will be finally awarded which can serve either as a ticket to higher education or better employment terms?
graduates should be commended for their hard work and determination to finish
their courses, better employment terms may remain a pipe dream for most of them.
of January 2004, the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) reports that
there are 3.9 million unemployed Filipinos. Of this number, 1.8 million (or 46
percent) are aged 15 to 24 years old. These are mostly fresh high school and
college graduates who should be employed so that their newly acquired skills and
knowledge would be maximized.
the reasons for being unemployed, the DoLE stresses that 29 percent of
unemployed persons surveyed said that they believe there is “no work
available.” Around 22 percent said that their being unemployed is due to
“temporary illness or disability.” Other reasons stated were “awaiting
results of previous job application” (17 percent), “waiting for rehire/job
recall” (14 percent), and “bad weather” (1 percent). A substantial number
(18 percent) were lumped under “others.”
is apparent that due to the labor situation, unemployed Filipinos are already
resigned to the fact that there is almost always no vacancy in their fields of
proves to be alarming, however, is that more than one-fifth of those who are out
of work have gotten sick or disabled. Their deteriorating physical health should
be analyzed in the context of work arrangements that they had to endure when
they were still employed. It is highly possible that they contracted such
diseases and incurred their disability (permanent or temporary) as a result of
their employer’s failure to comply with safety requirements for workers.
who are fortunate enough to be employed, however, are not automatically
guaranteed steady income, no matter how low it may be. Of the 31.5-million
employed Filipinos, 16.7 million (53 percent) are wage and salary workers. The
rest are own-account (11.7 million or 37 percent of total employed) and unpaid
family workers (3.1 million or 10 percent).
there is an increase in the percentage share of wage and salary workers compared
to the previous year’s 48 percent it still cannot be denied that up to now,
employed Filipinos still have to make do with low wages.
daily minimum wage rate for non-agricultural workers currently ranges from P140
or $2.49 (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao or ARMM) to P280 or $4.99
(National Capital Region or NCR). (The conversion is based on an exchange rate
of P56.14 for every U.S. dollar.)
of February 2004, however, the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC)
reports that a family of six in the ARMM needs at least P748 ($13.32) per day to
fulfill food and non-food requirements. For those living in the NCR, the family
living wage is pegged at P594 ($10.58) per day.
on these data, a minimum wage earner, no matter where he or she goes in the
country, cannot provide for the needs of a family of six. Neither can the
combined income of parents suffice if they both earn only minimum wage.
Indeed, today’s graduates are given a crash course on the harsh realities of the country’s chronic crisis. If there is one lesson that can be drawn from the sorry employment situation, it is the need to join the concerted action for wage increases and better job opportunities, if only to make sure that their families will eventually get the prosperity they deserve. Bulatlat.com