By William Casis

Sen. Sonny Angara said an estimated 1.3 million first-time jobseekers annually would be exempted from paying inordinately expensive government-issued documents after Duterte signed into law the First-Time Jobseekers Act, which he co-authored in the Senate.

He said this is one classic example where the government prioritizes the welfare of its people over revenues.

“Searching for a job can be costly and this measure can help ease a bit the financial burden first-time jobseekers are faced with,” Angara said.

“The costs of looking for work often lead to perverse outcome where jobseekers, having fallen into debt to meet these costs, find themselves worse off before and even unable to pay for basic like food,” he added.

He expressed hope the law’s implementing rules and regulation would be expedited, so that recent graduates who wish to work could avail of the benefits under the measure.

“We warmly welcome the signing of our bill (RA 11261)into law as this will financially aid our youth in finding employment,” said Sen. Joel Villanueva.

Under the measure, new graduates who completed the K-12 program, a bachelor’s degree or a technical-vocational course from any school, college, university or tech-voc institution in the country can avail of the incentive.

Students taking a leave of absence or those working part-time while enrolled are also qualified to claim the benefits, he said.

Angara also said this measure would complement the Free College Education Law, which he co-authored.

The new law mandates Public Employment Service Office (PESO) in every province, city and municipality to assist first-time jobseekers in securing all required documents for their job application, certification or clearance, and in registering or enrolling them with relevant government agencies, such as the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Social Security System, Pag-IBIG, PhilHealth, among others.

Under the law, individuals who seek employment for the first time will be able to secure identification documents and clearances issued by the government for free. These include police and barangay clearance, medical certificates from government clinics and hospitals, NBI certificate, birth and/or marriage certificates, tax identification number (TIN), transcript of records from SUCs, and Unified Multi-Purpose ID card (UMID), among other government documents that may be required by employers.

Data shows that job applicants pay as much as P2,000 for these employment requirements notwithstanding other expenses such as additional money for transportation, food, among others.

First-time applicants will only be asked to submit a barangay certification as proof that the individual is a first-time jobseeker. The law covers not only fresh graduates but also out-of-school youth.

According to a study by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), it showed that regulations and restrictions on employment arrangements are one of the strong factors influencing school-to-work transition.

Villanueva, who is also the chairman of Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development, explained that “it takes a high school graduate up to three years to find a first job while it takes a college graduate one year to find a first job.