A lawmaker is seeking to create additional jobs to boost local employment, through the appropriation of at least 10% of all funds allotted for local infrastructure projects.

Transportation Committee Chair and Samar Representative Edgar Mary Sarmiento filed House Bill 7591, otherwise known as the Employment Generation Through Infrastructure Investment Program, which mandates the government through the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to automatically allocate no less than 10% of project costs of infrastructure projects to “labor-intensive items of work” designated as “COVID-19 Items of Work”

COVID-19 Items of Work are pure labor tasks that require minimal skills which are needed in the implementation of a portion of an infrastructure project which shall be identified by the DPWH.

The said set of works includes construction of footpaths, construction and rehabilitation of sanitary and community facilities, installation of small scale water supply systems for schools, among other “minor construction” activities.

The hired workers will be considered as “extra hands” who should not be given “items of work which necessitate the use of equipment,” according to Mr. Sarmiento.

The lawmaker said the house measure “could provide the much-needed lifeline for many Filipinos,” especially the overseas Filipino workers who were forced to come back to the Philippines and those who have returned to their provinces due to loss of jobs in the country’s metropolis due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This proposal basically wants the government to help Filipinos who want to help themselves. Giving employment to help our people survive the pandemic is more sustainable than giving dole-outs,” he said. “The bill aims to address two pressing concerns. First, it will address unemployment. Second, it will benefit the community as the infrastructure projects are communal.”

Mr. Sarmiento believes that the government’s Build Build Build program remains a driving force to sustain the economy against the backdrop of economic recession.

“We have long known that infrastructure investment creates a multiplier effect which substantially boosts economic growth. The bill creates a mechanism wherein local infrastructure investment will directly translate into job generation,” he said. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza