Senator bill pushes discounted document fees for poor jobseekers

(ABS-CBN NEWS) MANILA — Like first-time jobseekers, indigent Filipinos should get pre-employment documents at waived or discounted rates to help with the costs of seeking employment, according to Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, who filed a bill for that this week.

He said that passage of the proposed “Kabalikat sa Hanapbuhay” bill will benefit members of more than 5.59 million households get access to documents like birth certificates and police and National Bureau of Investigation clearances that they have to submit to potential employers.

“Apart from first-time jobseekers, another sector that will need similar support and assistance are the members of indigent families. For them whose income falls below the poverty threshold, the costs of the said documents are unaffordable,” he said.

Many pre-employment requirements, like PhilHealth IDs and Social Security System certifications, are free but the Philippine Statistics Authority charges P330 for birth and marriage certificates and the NBI collects P155 for clearances.

The proposed fee adjustments will be for jobseekers who have “no visible means of income” or who earn below the National Economic and Development Authority poverty threshold, which is currently at P12,030 a month.

Beneficiary households of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pamilya Program (4Ps) will be automatically qualified as indigents.

Estrada’s bill proposed a 20-percent discount on the fees for barangay and NBI clearances, medical certificates from government hospitals, marriage and birth certificates, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority certificates, Certificates of Civil Service Eligibility, and Unified Multi-Purpose IDs (UMID).

The bill also seeks to waive fees for Transcripts of Records and similar documents issued by state schools and for school records issued by the Department of Education.

Beneficiaries may only avail of the free or discounted documents once every six months and those who fake their eligibility will face charges “shall be prosecuted and punished in accordance with the pertinent provisions” of the Revised Penal Code, Estrada’s bill reads.

Unemployment was at 4.8 percent in July, the PSA said in early September. That is equivalent to around 2.27 million jobless Filipinos.

The figure was up slightly from June figures, but an improvement from the 5.2 unemployment rate in July 2022, the PSA also said.