Labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno called on the Philippine Congress to “review and increase” the proposed 2023 budget for the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE).
“DoLE needs a higher budget if the government really wants to advance the welfare of Filipino workers,” said Jerome Adonis, secretary general of the labor group.
“How would the department extend services if it has limited funding?” he added.
In the 2023 National Expenditure Program, the Department of Budget and Management allocated PhP26.23 billion for DoLE, a 49 percent decrease compared to the PhP51.2 billion in 2022.
The budget allocation decreased because some of DoLE’s attached agencies were transferred to the newly established Department of Migrant Workers (DMW).
The DMW has a proposed budget of PhP15.21 billion. Even when combined, Adonis said “the 2023 budget for Filipino workers is still lower than the previous year.”
He said the total funding for agencies that focus on the welfare of the workers is only 0.78 percent of the entire national budget.
“The manner in which the government allocates funds for programs and services needed by the workers only shows its lack of interest and concern for the labor sector,” said the labor leader.
Adonis said only PhP563 is allocated for each Filipino worker for the whole of 2023 compared to PhP1.5 million allocated per soldier.
“It is clear that Filipino workers are not the priority amid the worsening economic crisis. There is no program and no funding for job creation and services for employed and unemployed workers,” he said.
Independent thinktank IBON Foundation noted in a research brief that big cuts in the annual budget can be observed in the social protection budgets for families and children (cut by PhP20.3 billion or 45.9%), unemployment (PhP10.8 billion, 33.9%), housing (PhP2.6 billion, 56.2%), and social protection not elsewhere classified (PhP24.1 billion, 9%).
“Slashing funds for social protection despite the unresolved pandemic and economic crisis shows the Marcos Jr administration’s insensitivity to millions of Filipinos in distress and its deliberate intent to ignore the country’s glaring problems,” read IBON’s study.
The 2023 proposed national budget is about PhP5.268 trillion, with PhP1.196 trillion allocated for infrastructure programs.