PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte has signed into a law a measure waiving fees and charges for government documents typically issued to first-time jobseekers, the Palace said.

Mr. Duterte signed on April 10 Republic Act No. 11261, also known as the “First Time Jobseekers Assistance Act.” Malacañang released copies of the law Tuesday.

The law directs all government agencies and instrumentalities, including government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs), local government units (LGUs), and government hospitals not to collect fees or charges from a first-time jobseeker provided that such payments are in connection with the application for and the granting of documents or identification cards usually required in the course of local or overseas employment. This benefit can only be “availed of once.”

Documents covered by the law are the police clearance certificate, National Bureau of Investigation clearance, barangay clearance, medical certificates from a public hospital (with the exception of laboratory tests and other medical procedures), birth certificates, marriage certificates, transcripts of academic records issued by state colleges and universities, tax identification numbers, Unified Multi-Purpose ID cards, and other documentary requirements issued by the government that may be required by employers from applicants.

Section 6 of the law states: “The concerned government agencies shall maintain and update a roster of all individuals who have been issued documents under this Act. This roster shall be regularly submitted to the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), which shall compile a database of all beneficiaries of this Act to be made accessible to all relevant agencies.”

First time jobseekers will be assisted by the Public Employment Service Office (PESO) in securing required pre-employment documents from various government agencies.

The labor secretary, in consultation with the DICT and other agencies, is tasked to issue within 60 days from the effectivity of the law the implementing rules and regulations (IRR).

In a statement, Senator Juan Edgardo M. Angara, who co-authored the law, said: “We express our sincerest gratitude to the President for signing into law this landmark legislation that would exempt an estimated 1.3 million first-time jobseekers annually from paying fees on government-issued documents that are inordinately expensive for people without regular jobs.”

“This is one classic example where the government prioritizes the welfare of its people over revenues. While the law would lead to millions of pesos in foregone government profits, it would provide financial relief to cash-strapped jobseekers,” he added. — Arjay L. Balinbin