Labor and Employment official recognizes the informal sector’s crucial role in running the grassroots economy as it contributes to the nation’s overall growth.

Joffrey M. Suyao, regional director of Department of Labor and Employment(DOLE) in Davao region said the continued eking out of income and doing livelihood activities of every individual in the informal sector fuels to make alive the economy in their (informal workers) community.

Workers in the informal sector include micro-entrepreneurs, home-based workers, vendors, jeepney and tricycle drivers, small and landless farmers, fisherfolk, non-corporate construction workers, garbage collectors and recyclers, petty retailers, barter traders, small-scale miners and quarry workers, entertainers, beauticians and hairdressers, laundry persons, on-call domestic helpers, barangay health workers and other volunteer workers, among others.

“Your being productive day after day helps the local economy to move and flow,” Suyao said as he address at least 200 participants of the recently conducted Informal Sector’s Day hosted by the agency at Homitori Dormitel in Davao City.

The event bearing the theme IS: Haligi sa Kalamboan, Kauban sa Kauswagan highlighted the awarding of livelihood projects, presentation of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Insurance and the AlakanSSSya Program of the Social Security System. Fun games and surprises made out the fiesta theme of the celebration.

Assistant regional Director Venerando C. Cebrano said that businesses among the informal sector, no matter how small engages the informal sector in the whole economic scheme thus the need to provide social protection and upholding of their rights.

“This celebration shows our high regard to the workers of the informal sector and further strengthens our advocacy for their protection and observance to uphold their rights,” Cebrano said.

“We find ways to help and protect the informal sector by providing them livelihoods and  various social insurances as they continue to tend their small income generating activities,” he added.

All DOLE’s direct beneficiaries of the livelihood projects are provided PRC Premier Bronze insurance.

During the event, DOLE has provided a total of P3,030,783.00 worth of livelihood grants to 13 people’s organization and LGU recipients. The projects which included meat processing, basic sewing machines, livelihood starter kits, food processing, Negosyo-Karts, vermicast production, fishing package, banana powder production, abaca hand woven project, Bangus processing and water refilling stations are expected to benefit a total of 1,347 beneficiaries.

Meanwhile, Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara pushed recently the passage of Senate Bill 1941 or the Magna Carta of Workers in Informal Economy, which aims to provide the same basic constitutional rights to the informal sector.

“The ranks of informal workers, many of whom live in substandard conditions and cannot meet their basic needs, have been increasing through the years. It is essential to look after their rights and interests if poverty in the country is to be effectively addressed,” Angara said.

In a press statement, Angara pointed out that since most informal workers are not covered by the Labor Code and other legislation that could protect their rights, they are often subject to exploitation by unscrupulous employers, who make them work long hours and at very low wages, without benefits and under very poor working conditions.

“This bill seeks to empower the poor, marginalized, unprotected and underrepresented workers in informal employment, and bring them into the mainstream of the Philippine economy. It carries a strong bias to prioritize and empower the poorest of the poor,” he explained.

Sherwin B. Manual/DOLE 11