The House of Representatives has passed on third and final reading a measure that would help qualified heads of families and unmarried adults of poor families in rural areas find jobs.
Dubbed as REAP, which stands for “Rural Employment Assistance Program,” House Bill 5672 mandates the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to provide temporary jobs for a minimum of 45 days but not more than 90 days in every calendar year to qualified individuals in the countryside.
The bill is authored by Rep. Christopher Co of AKO Bicol, a partylist ally of the National Unity Party (NUP).
His co-authors are fellow AKO-Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe, as well as Representatives Manuel Agyao of Kalinga, George Arnaiz of Negros Oriental, Wilfredo Caminero of Cebu, Delphine Gan Lee of AGRI partylist, Marie Anne Pernes of Siquijor and Erlinda Santiago of SAGIP partylist.
Similar to the Cash for Work program, REAP covers every head of family or an unmarried, single adult member of a qualified poor family in rural areas who volunteers to do unskilled manual work.
"The bill is envisioned to arrest the growing unemployment rate in the country which is highest in the ASEAN region. But above anything else, it is designed to make our rural poor productive in order to uplift their lives and their families as well as to spur economic growth in their communities," said Co, a vice chairman of the House Committee on Globalization and WTO.
Qualified applicants of REAP are entitled to receive for each day of work financial assistance equal to the applicable minimum wage set by the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB).
They are also entitled to the coverage of mandatory social security benefits such as those extended by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG) and the Social Security System (SSS), Co said.
Job projects in REAP include the development, rebuilding or rehabilitation of agriculture-based livelihood assets destroyed or lost due to natural disasters, such as desilting of irrigation canals, development of paddy dikes and rehabilitation of water impounding;
Rehabilitation or development of common service facilities which are being shared and used by poor families as production or consolidation centers such as post-harvest facilities and public markets; development or rehabilitation of physical assets such as farm-to-market roads and bridges; and protection of productive assets such as mangrove planting/rehabilitation and tree planting.