Baguio City – “Madulimay” was born in Bauko, Mt. Province. She is a daughter of a farmer and a street vendor. In 2009, her family migrated to La Trinidad, Benguet to give their young family a better life. The meager income of her parents was allocated to the education of her three (3) siblings. “Madulimay” the second among the four siblings, understood that her parents income was not enough to support their educational needs.

Motivated to pursue her college education and wanting not to be a burden to her parents and needing monetary assistance to purchase books, pay rent and budget for basic needs, she applied as a working student in the Office of Students Affairs at the Saint Louis University (SLU) where she is taking up Bachelor of Science in Business Administration-Major in Financial Management.

She applied for the Special Program of Employment for Students (SPES) of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and was accepted as a SPES beneficiary in partnership with Saint Louis University at the same time as a working student at the same university. To cut the long story short, her SPES experience landed her as an On the Job Trainee (OJT) in one of the Regional Line Agencies in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) for 6 months. Presenting extraordinary performance in her workplace where her supervisors took notice, thus after her OJT, she was requested to continue working as a Job Order (JO) employee.

After graduation, her determination to help her family from financial burden, she hurdled the Civil Service Professional Examinations and passed with a high rating. “Madulimay” is one of thousand success stories of the SPES program.

Speaking before students in one of the colleges in Baguio City, she developed the courage to follow her dream, no matter the financial difficulties. Her exposure to the world of work and the hardships experienced in the life made her a better person. The SPES became her light at the end of a dark tunnel as she journeyed to where she is now.

Republic Act No. 10917, act amending certain provisions of RA No. 9547, otherwise known as an act strengthening and expanding the coverage of the Special Program for Employment of Students (SPES), amending for the purpose provisions of RA no. 7323, otherwise known as the SPES.

The SPES aims to develop the intellectual capacities of children of poor families and harness their potentials. Specifically, the program aims to help poor but deserving students pursue their education by providing income opportunities through encouraging their employment during summer and/or Christmas vacations.

The SPES is also an employment-bridging program that aims to provide temporary employment to disadvantaged youth. The program responds to the President of the Philippines’ 22-Point Labor and Employment Agenda, which calls for the DOLE to work with relevant government agencies in order to enhance social protection. SPES also builds on the Emergency Community Employment Program (ECEP) to create jobs that supply young workers with income to spend on fundamental needs.

SPES enhances the employability of youth, who will eventually come to be the country’s future workforce. Along with providing students with experience while earning income, SPES is designed to increase employment opportunities for young people in the long-term. SPES is mandated under Republic Act No. 10917, 9547, and 7323, with the Secretary of DOLE functioning as Program Director.

Under this program, students and out-of-school youths are qualified if they meet the following eligibility as follows:applicants must be at least 15 but not more than 30 years of age; student must have obtained at least an average passing grade during the semester/school year attended. For Out of School Youth (OSY), they should be duly certifies as OSY; combined net income after tax of parents, including his/her own income does not exceed the regional Poverty Threshold.

Interested students or out-of-school youths who want to avail of the program have to file their application at any of the following: (1) public employment service offices (PESO) in their respective city, municipality or province; (2) PESO registered private companies whose Pledge of Commitment as DOLE SPES partners have been approved by the Regional Director; and (3) employment officers of state universities and colleges also with approved Pledge of Commitment. The PESOs are located at the municipal or city hall or at the provincial capitol. These offices are accepting applicants from students. In the absence of PESO in their municipalities, students or drop-outs may apply at any of the nearest PESO or employment offices

Applicants need to submit the following aside from the SPES Application form as folows: (1) birth certificate or any document showing students or OSY date of birth; (2) certification from school registrar of his/her last enrollment and grades; (3) latest income tax return of his/her parents certified by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) or Certificate of Tax Exemption or Certificate of Indigence issued by the   barangay or SWDO ; (4) for OSY, a certificate of good moral character issued by the barangay where he/she resides or certificate issued by the municipal, city or provincial SWDO where the OSY resides.

The PESO then screens the applicants and if qualified, refers them to their place of work at government or private companies. Those applicants screened and accepted by private companies start their work in said establishments. As their employers, these companies pay 60 percent of their salaries while the remaining 40 percent is shouldered by the DOLE. These students render a minimum of 15 days and a maximum of 78 days in a year.  The SPES has been remodeled to include student employment not only during the summer period but also during the regular semesters. As such, while students are enrolled during the regular semesters, they are also rendering work under the SPES program.

END/Patrick T Rillorta