Secretary of Labor and Employment Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has already disbursed P2.3 million (P2,326,580) in allowances to 984 students in the provinces of Davao, Davao Oriental, and Compostela Valley, all in Region 11, under the DOLE intervention program dubbed “Sagip Mag-aaral” or the Student Assistance through the Government Internship Program.

“The Sagip Mag-aaral is an immediate and short-term intervention of the Department of Labor and Employment for the youth sector, especially the students, whose families have been displaced by typhoon Pablo. This was meant to mitigate the possibility of these students themselves being displacement from school,” Baldoz said.

Regional Director Joffrey M. Suyao has reported to Baldoz that the amount of P2.3 million was used to pay for the allowances of the 984 students who were identified to have come from Davao City (72 students); Boston (85 students), Cateel (79 students), Baganga (71 students), Caraga (92 students), all in Davao Oriental; and Montevista (52 students), Monkayo (117 students), New Bataan (175 students), Compostela (151 students), and Laak (90 students), all in Compostela Valley.

“We have given employment to the students for a period of 12 days maximum and provided them an allowance equivalent to 75 percent of the prevailing minimum wage in Region XI, or P225.75 per day,” Suyao reported.

Under the Sagip Mag-aaral, most of the students were tasked to pack and repack DSWD relief goods at the DSWD Relief Center in Davao City and in the affected towns and to profile other victims of typhoon Pablo in their respective communities.

Director Suyao also said the students learned a lot in terms of experience in the short-term employment, which experience they could use later as they progress in their careers.

“The beneficiaries of Sagip Mag-aaralgathered an estimated 60,000 profiles during the period of their temporary work. The DOLE Field Offices in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley have turned over the profiles to the regional office for processing,” he said, adding that because the profiles were gathered manually, there is a need to secure and store the profiles in a databank system that could facilitate easy retrieval, otherwise, there is a great possibility of losing the profiles and a re-conduct of profiling activity would be very burdensome and disadvantageous to the government.

According to Suyao, the International Labor Organization had already committed to share its computer program used by the DOLE Regional Office No. 10 in the aftermath of typhoon Sendong in 2011.

He said he plans to rent 30 computer units from an internet café near schools in Davao City and invite students, through the region’s school-based PESOs, to do the encoding during their free time.

“We assume that the encoding of 60,000 profiles shall be completed in ten days. The budgetary requirements shall be sourced out from the approved Emergency Employment (TUPAD-AMP) fund as administrative expense,” he said.

The DOLE, according to Secretary Baldoz, designed the Sagip Mag-aaral for students who needed urgent support to continue schooling.

“As an emergency measure, the DOLE implements short-term wage employment such as the Sagip Mag-aaral to enable them to earn income through various community work, such as profiling of displaced workers, assisting in retrieval and relief operation in command or evacuation sites, and clean-up activities,” she said.

The DOLE implemented the Sagip Mag-aaral in partnership with the local governments of the areas hardest-hit by the typhoon.

The labor and employment chief said the allowance received by the participating students may not be substantial, but it was expected to provide them temporary relief from economic uncertainties to ease their sufferings and facilitate the continuity of their attendance in school.

“The relief is temporary, but the release–that is, their being able to continue their education which is an equalizer and will enable them to rise from the level where they are now is permanent,” explained Baldoz.