Baguio City – Recognizing the role of the youths in nation building, the National Government had been implementing programs and services for the youths.  One of these programs and services is the Special Program for the Employment of Students (SPES).  The SPES program is mandated under Republic Act No. 10917 otherwise known as “An act amending certain provisions of Republic Act No. 9547, otherwise known as an act strengthening and expanding the coverage of the Special Program for Employment of Students.  Amending for the purpose provisions of Republic Act No. 7323, otherwise known as the Special Program for the Employment of Students.”

The SPES is a component of the KABATAAN 2000 program that aims to help poor but deserving students pursue college education by providing income or augment their income by encouraging their employment during summer & Christmas vacation.

Employers are encouraged to hire the youth and are given incentive by the Government.  For private employers, NGAs, 1st to 5th class cities and provinces, and 1st to 3rd class municipalities, they will be paying only 60% of the prevailing minimum wage while DOLE pays the balance of 40%.  As for the 6th class cities and provinces and 4th class municipalities, employers will pay 50 % of the salaries of SPES beneficiaries and DOLE pays the remaining 50 %.

Those SPES beneficiaries from the 5th will receive 40 % of their salaries from their employers while 60 % will be paid by DOLE and for those who work in the 6th class municipalities will be paid the 25 % of their salaries and DOLE will shoulder the remaining 75 %.

To date, there are 6, 083 SPES beneficiaries from the six provinces in CAR and the City of Baguio who will be receiving their respective salaries based on the number of days they worked amounting to P 24, 887, 217.00 representing the counterpart of the Government thru the DOLE.  Aside from the salaries, the SPES beneficiaries were enrolled on a group insurance with the GSIS for the duration of their employment.  DOLE allocated the amount of P 304, 150.00 for the said insurance.

Abra has 823 SPES beneficiaries with budget allocation of P 3, 868, 738.05 while the Apayao Province has 667 with a budget of P 2, 860, 652.88. The City of Baguio has 593 SPES beneficiaries while Mt. Province has 594 with a budget of P 4, 001, 268.47 and P 2, 310, 509.00 respectively.  For Mt. Province, SPES beneficiaries work from 20 to 3o days while Baguio SPES beneficiaries work of 78 days.

The Province of Benguet has 861 SPES with budget allocation of P 3, 196, 974.04 while Ifugao has 1, 159 and Kalinga has 1, 366 with a budget allocation of P 4, 402, 346.40 and P 4, 550, 878.16.

The SPES beneficiaries are assigned in the various municipalities doing clerical works, as laborers, nursery keepers while others are assigned to clear water ways in preparation for the rainy season.

“SPES is a continuing program of the DOLE as part of our mandate for job and income generation.  With this program, we are not only providing works and income for our youth but they are being trained to be productive”, says Exequiel Ronie Guzman, DOLE Regional Director

“We are also thankful to our partners in the implementation of this program, the 6 provincial governments of CAR namely Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga and Mt. Province the Municipal Governments and the City Governments of Tabuk and Baguio and also the people’s organizations and the private establishments for their continued support since this program had started.  Without them, this program will not materialize since 60 % of the salaries of the SPES beneficiaries are paid by them”, he added.

The SPES program is open to all qualified high school college, technology or vocational students or dropouts who are 15 – 30 years old.  The combined income of the parents must not exceed P130, 620.00 per annum.

To qualify as employer, any per any person or entity who has employed at least 10 workers at any given time during the past 12 months, they may be private establishments, national and local government units, GOCCs, labor unions, NGOs, other organizations/associations.

“This is my 4th availment of the SPES program of DOLE in partnership with our City Government of Baguio. It is very helpful to those who are making both ends meet like me.  I was given the opportunity to work and earn so that I will have something to use for my schooling” says Nemalyn Palaroan, a 3rd year college student taking up BSBA-HRDM, who first availed of the program in 2015.

“I work for 78 days and I receive a total of P 23, 400.00 as my salaries.  The City Government of Baguio pays the amount of P 14, 040.00 while DOLE will pay P 9, 360.00 and I will use this to pay for my tuition fee and other school needs”, she added.

The SPES program was initially started in 1993 by virtue of Republic Act 7323 and it is on its 25th year of implementation.  Recognizing the need for the enhancement of the program, DOLE lobbied with the Congress hence, Republic Act 10917 was passed in 2015 amending the former SPES law.

Students who availed of this program are already trooping to the DOLE Regional Office and its provincial offices since the 2nd week of June to claim their respective salaries in time for the enrollment./Leonardo M. Doguil, TSSD