Nationwide round-up (11/30/20)

TUCP asks gov’t to expand infra program to create employment

THE Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) called on the government to expand its infrastructure program to help address unemployment resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. “Putting our people back to work through public construction is the first step out of joblessness,” TUCP Party-list Representative Raymond C. Mendoza said in a statement on Monday. He also noted the construction industry’s multiplier effect in the economy. “The investment in infrastructure will lower the cost of business operations, and the improved conditions will entice investors to put up businesses in the provinces, and new private sector jobs will be created.” The labor coalition is also pushing for an P11,000 monthly financial subsidy for minimum wage workers affected by the crisis. In May, the Department of Labor and Employment estimated job loss due to the pandemic at 10 million by the end of the year. — Gillian M. Cortez

House committees approve bill updating passport law

A JOINT panel of the House of Representatives has approved a consolidated bill updating the law on the issuance of Philippine passports. The consolidated measure, endorsed by the committees on foreign affairs and appropriations, includes House Bill No. 6399, authored by Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez. Mr. Rodriguez said the bill “aims to update and reflect the current laws that affect the process of issuing passports” by amending Republic Act No. 8239, otherwise known as the Philippine Passport Act of 1996. Under the measure, regular passports would be valid for 10 years, except those issued to persons under 18 years old, which would be good for five years. The bill allows the issuance of any of three travel papers under certain circumstances “like urgent travel of a person who has not been issued a passport yet or who has lost his passport,” he said. Under the measure, the right to travel may be impaired only when “national security, public safety or public health requires.” The former immigration commissioner pointed out that to enhance and protect the right to travel, “only minimum requirements for the application and issuance of passports and other travel documents shall be imposed, and such issuance shall be expedited.” The lawmaker said the existing law has to be updated because since the statute’s enactment 24 years ago, “Congress has passed at least three laws affecting the right to travel” such as the Domestic Adoption Act of 1998, the Citizenship and Reacquisition Act of 2003, and the Philippine Identification System Act. Other new provisions in the bill include giving authority to the secretary of foreign affairs to set “reasonable fees” for passport processing, and a 32% discount for senior citizens. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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