Press Release
April 8, 2016


Senator Sonny Angara has lauded the passage of a bill that seeks to include out-of-school youth among the beneficiaries of the government's Special Program for the Employment of Students (SPES), which provides short-term job opportunities to help students pursue and continue their education.

Senate Bill No. 3090, which was passed on third and final reading, aims to expand the coverage of SPES to include not only poor but deserving students, but also out-of-school youth, dependents of displaced workers, and would-be displaced workers due to business closures or work stoppages, or natural calamities, who intend to enroll in any secondary, tertiary or technical-vocational institutions.

"The Philippine Constitution recognizes the youth's vital role in nation-building, mandating that education be given top priority as a means to promote their total development. But for years, we have had trouble with keeping our young in school mainly due to financial constraints. Minsan, mas madali ang tumigil muna sa pag-aaral," said Angara, acting chairman of the Senate labor committee and the sponsor of the proposed measure.

The SPES was instituted in 1992, under Republic Act 7323, to help poor but deserving students in pursuing their education by encouraging establishments and government agencies to employ them during summer and Christmas vacations.

In 2009, RA 7323 was amended through RA 9547 or the Act Strengthening and Expanding the Coverage of the Special Program for Employment of Students to improve the program, expand its coverage, and increase the budget allocation for SPES.

"We are pushing for this measure today to further strengthen the SPES law and to ensure that more of our poor but deserving students are placed under its wing. Bukod sa maliit na sahod para sa iilang buwan ng trabaho, binibigyan natin ng oportunidad ang mga estudyante pati na rin ang mga out-of-school youth na makapagpatuloy sa pagaaral. Madadagdagan din ang manpower ng mga pribadong kumpanya pati na rin ang mga ahensya ng gobyerno," said the senator who is a known advocate of educational reforms.

SB 3090, which amends Republic Act 9547, raises the age limit of the program's beneficiaries from the current 15 to 25 years old to 15 to 30 years old.

The bill also extends the SPES employment period from 52 days to 78 days or three months.

Students enrolled in the secondary level shall only be employed during summer and/or Christmas vacations, while the out-of-school youth and those enrolled in the tertiary, vocational or technical education may be employed at any time of the year.

Students who are employed in activities related to their course may earn equivalent academic and practicum or on-the-job training credits.

In 2015, the SPES program provided jobs to 169,246 students, who were hired as food service crews, customer touch points, office clerks, gasoline attendants, cashiers, sales ladies, promodizers, as well as in clerical, encoding, messengerial, computer and programming jobs.

Under the current law, employers pay in cash 60 percent of the salary of student beneficiaries, while the remaining 40 percent is shouldered by the government in the form of education voucher.

The proposed measure deletes the mode of payment through education voucher and replaces it with cash given the delays students have experienced in their enrolment because some schools do not accept vouchers.

"The strict implementation of payment of education vouchers was identified as one of the drawbacks of the current SPES program. Some schools are hesitant to accept education vouchers because it takes additional time and effort for the schools to claim from DOLE the actual payment of the students as reflected in the vouchers. This bill mandates that students should be paid in cash or through ATM to be used for their tuition fees and other education-related expenses including their daily allowance for food and transportation in going to school," the lawmaker said.

He added that these amendments under the proposed measure, which will be adopted by the House of Representatives, are expected to ensure efficient, effective and expeditious implementation of the SPES nationwide.

"Mahalaga na maipasa natin ang panukalang batas na ito. Sa ganitong paraan, mabibigyan po ang ating kabataan ng mas patas na pagkakataon para mag-aaral at i-angat ang antas ng kanilang buhay at ng kanilang mahal sa buhay. Kapag hindi na sila mapipilitang tumigil sa kanilang pag-aaral, gaganda po ang kanilang kinabukasan," Angara said.

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