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Angara calls on colleagues to support bill giving jobs to rural folk

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By Elena Aben

Senator Sonny Angara is calling on his fellow senators to cross party lines and approve his proposed bill that will provide employment opportunities to people in rural areas in the country.

Senator Juan Edgardo Angara / MB file photo

Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara (Manila Bulletin file photo)

This call for support was made by Angara as the Senate resumes session Tuesday, May 2.

Senate Bill 947, entitled “An Act Providing for Rural Employment Assistance Program and Appropriating Funds thereof,” or REAP, is currently pending at the committee on social justice, welfare and rural development.

Section 3 of said bill states that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), in coordination with local government units (LGUs), shall establish and implement the REAP.

“The program shall provide temporary employment to every qualified head of family or an unmarried, single adult member of qualified poor families in rural areas to do unskilled manual work for a minimum of 45 days but not more than 90 days in every calendar year,” it further stated.

According to Angara, REAP qualifiers shall receive a daily minimum wage set by the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board. They shall also be covered by the Social Security System (SSS), Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), and Home Development Mutual Fund (PAG-IBIG).

As defined in the bill, a “rural area” refers to a barangay which has a population of less than 2,500 and which does not have any business establishment with 25 or more employees, or five or more establishments with a minimum of 10 employees, or five facilities within two-kilometer radius from the barangay hall.

Angara said the lack of significant economic growth in rural areas may have largely contributed to the continued rise of unemployment rate in the countryside.

“Many studies have shown that poverty in our country is most severe and widespread in rural areas, where almost 80% of the poor population live,” the senator pointed out.

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