Feature: PESO officers in Eastern Visayas have come a long way
By Atty. Forter G. Puguon, DOLE Regional Director
Tacloban City (February 2) -- The term PESO is becoming a by-word not only among job seekers but more and more among the Local Government Units or LGUs, State and private colleges and universities, and non-government organizations, and even among the general public. Indeed, the PESOs in the Region have a come along way.
The term PESO is an acronym that stands for Public Employment Service Office. It was originally a mere program of DOLE on employment facilitation started sometime in 1992 basically to provide free employment facilitation services for our job seekers and job applicants, but then as a mere job matching and referral facility.
It was the government's counterpart to the private recruitment and placement agencies (PRPAs) for local employment and the private recruitment agencies (PRAs) for overseas deployment.
Then found to be an effective employment facilitation service, the DOLE initiated efforts to ensure the continuous services of the PESOs through its institutionalization. In 1999, more concrete initiatives towards the institutionalization of the PESO were taken via the filing of PESO bills in the House of Representatives and the Senate. House Bill No. 7127 was finally approved in the House of Representatives on December 15, 1999 and Senate Bill No. 468 was approved in the Senate on December 16, 1999. The said approved bills were then consolidated and thus the PESO program was legislated and signed into law-mandated offices by then President Joseph E. Estrada under Republic Act No. 8759 otherwise known as the PESO Act of 1999.
Thus, the PESO Act of 1999 mandated the establishment of a Public Employment Service Office or PESO in all capital towns of provinces, key cities, and other strategic areas of the country. It is supposed to be community-based and maintained largely by the local government units and a number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or community-based organizations (CBOs) and state universities and colleges. These PESOs are also mandated to be linked to the DOLE Regional Office for coordination and technical supervision, and to the DOLE Central Office to constitute the national employment service network.
Under RA 8759, the PESOS are intended to carry out the declared State policy to provide full employment and equality of employment opportunities for all Filipino workers and, for this purpose, to strengthen and expand the existing employment facilitation service machinery of the government at the local levels. In general, the objectives of the PESO are to ensure the prompt, timely and efficient delivery of employment service and provision of information on other DOLE programs.
The promotion and coordination of the PESO program is directly under DOLE's Bureau of Local Employment (BLE) now headed by Bureau Director Criselda Sy, and is part of the larger Employment and Manpower Development Cluster headed by DOLE Undersecretary Romeo C. Lagman.
By 2003, there were still only few operational PESOs in the Region and these few operational PESOs were only functional periodically. These were evident in the very few attendance in the Regional PESO Congress, most of whom come from the Province of Leyte. The PESOs were facing several challenges including their status as merely designated PESO managers, the lack of support of either the Local Chief Executives, or the LGU Department heads, or the Sanguniang Bayan or Panglungsod, and their lack of specific budget allocation.
Responding to these challenges, new efforts were initiated to strengthen the then existing PESOs and to get other LGUs, colleges and universities to establish their own Public Employment Service Offices or PESOs.
One major initiative was the launching of the Advocacy Orientation on DOLE-LGU Closer Partnership which was aimed at getting the LGU officialdom and the SUCs and private colleges and universities to be aware, understand and appreciate the importance of the PESO to their mandate and the needs of their constitutes.
In November 2004, the first Advocacy Orientation for DOLE-LGU Partnership was launched with the Palo Municipal Government under Mayor Teodoro Sevilla. Then came the Advocacy Orientation for LGU officials of Calbiga under then Mayor Luzviminda L. Nacario in November 2004. From then on, this Advocacy Orientation for DOLE-LGU Closer Partnership was getting the interest of more and more Local Chief Executives leading to the establishment of a growing number of PESOs in the LGUs and educational institutions. The same advocacy was undertaken among educational institutions. The first PESO-Academe established in an educational institution is that at the Leyte Normal University then under Dr. Gonzaga as President.
Another major move was to cascade the Regional PESO Congress to the provincial level. Hitherto, only the Regional PESO Congress was being conducted each year by the DOLE Regional Office which has been experiencing very poor attendance because of the lack of support of the Local Chief Executives to their PESOs and the distance of travel especially for those coming from the Samar Island. It was also felt that a once a year congress or meeting is very inadequate for the PESO Managers who need more sharing of expertise and experiences among themselves in the implementation of their employment programs and activities. The DOLE Regional Office however can not afford to sponsor and conduct all these provincial PESO Congresses for the six provinces in the region. We need clear partners and the provincial governments are the more stable partners in the periodic hosting of provincial PESO congresses.
Thus, in early 2005, we started holding Provincial PESO Congresses in partnership with the Provincial Governments wherein we brought together all the PESO Manages in each province for exchange of expertise and experiences, and for updates on employment rules, guidelines and programs.
Leyte Province took the lead in this new initiative by holding its First Provincial Congress in February 2005 at the SMED Center, Tacloban City, followed by Northern Samar Province with its 1st Provincial Congress in August 2005 at the Ibabao Hall, Provincial Capitol in Catarman. The Province of Eastern Samar had its First Provincial Congress in late January 2007 at the VRC Resort in Almeria. The rest soon followed suit in the months or years later.
A third major effort was to encourage the region's PESO Managers to attend the National PESO Congress, both to give them an opportunity to hear and learn from their counterparts in the other regions of the country, and to serve as an incentive to their for year's active implementation of employment programs in their areas. Whereas before, there were only a few who would attend the National PESO Congress, in the last National PESO Congress held at the Oxford Hotel in Clark, Pampanga, there were more than 60 PESO Managers who participated from the Eastern Visayas region.
Currently, there are now 161 PESO Managers all over the region, of which 149 are PESO Managers of Local Government Units (provinces, cities and municipalities), 11 are PESO Managers in the academe (State and private colleges and universities) and one PESO Manager in an NGO.
With majority of the local government units now having functional and active PESO Managers, the focus has shifted to the institutionalization the PESOs and empowering them through training not only on their core functions but on the other employment programs and services to best serve the human resource development needs of the residents in their respective LGUs and schools.
Today we are talking of our region hosting the next National PESO Congress. The DOLE Regional Office and the PESOMA-EV are working together to have our Region host the 2010 National Peso Congress that would bring around 900 PESO Managers to the National Forum. The 2009 National PESO Congress was hosted by the Luzon group of PESO Managers, more particularly Region 3 or the Central Luzon Region which hosted it at the Oxford Hotel in Clark, Pampanga. It is the turn of the Visayas group to host the next National Congress and among the three regions in the Visayas area, Eastern Visayas Region has the initial nod of PESOPHIL of getting the privilege and honor to host it. PESOPHIL, INC. is the National Association of all PESO Managers all over the Philippines.
Indeed, the PESOs in Region Eight are now poised to bring their Labor and Employment programs, projects and services for their respective constituents to higher levels of accomplishments and excellence! (DOLE/PIA) [top]