BIÑAN CITY- FULLY aware of the importance of the young people as one its greatest assets, and the need to shield them from the ill-effects of the still ongoing pandemic, the city government has decided to launch various programs designed to ensure that their needs and well-being are taken care for in these critical times.
The Covid-19 pandemic may have affected the livelihood of Biñanenses, but it has also opened a new opportunity for its youth, according to City Public Employment Service Office (PESO) head Romualdo Garcia.
With many students forced to stay at home due to lockdowns ushering in the new system of learning in the country, it also meant they could be tapped more readily for employment.
This, Garcia said, is where the Special Program for the Employment of Students (SPES) comes in.
The program, launched by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) before the Covid-19 pandemic, is a scheme where students and out-of-school youth are given temporary employment during school breaks.
Students are given P10,500 in exchange for temporary work which can last up to 20 days.
Most of SPES’ beneficiaries included out-of-school youth and incoming Grade 12 students from public schools; however, Garcia said the PESO office also accepts students from private schools who are deemed worthy of assistance.
However, the implementation of the program during the pandemic became a lot more difficult due to health protocols and restrictions on movement, Garcia added.
Some LGUs were forced to suspend the implementation of SPES due to the restrictions.
But rather than scuttling the program, the Biñan City LGU decided to “innovate.”
"Dito sa Biñan, minarapat po ni Mayor Walfredo Dimaguila, Jr. na ipagpatuloy po ang SPES program dahil ngayon po higit na kailangan ng kabataan ng ayuda sa kanilang pag-aaral sa panahon na nagigipit po ang kanilang mga magulang,” he said.
In lieu of face-to-face interactions, the PESO delivered webinars to SPES beneficiaries on entrepreneurial management, financial literacy, and other issues affecting the youth such as teenage pregnancy and HIVs.
SPES beneficiaries were also involved in the “Go Clean and Green” program in partnership with the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO), which included cleaning up their own backyards.
“Aside from that, nag-partner po kami sa City Agriculture Office (CAO) kung saan pinagtanim po namin sila, for them to be aware sa pangangailangan po ng mga puno at halaman sa ating kapaligiran,” Garcia said.
“Hindi man po sila lumabas ng bahay, pero sila po ay kumita,” he proudly added.
More financial assistance
Aside from the SPES program, the city government of Biñan also gave out financial assistance to the 216 members of the city’s Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) during the pandemic.
"Isa po ang lungsod ng Biñan sa handful of LGUs na merong ganitong uri ng programa," Alfred Benedict Suarez, head of the City Youth and Sports Development Office (YASDO), bared.
While some sectors had called the SK a burdensome program that only serves as a breeding ground for corruption, Suarez pointed out the vital role of SK officials in giving out assistance to other Biñanenses during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Pansinin ninyo – sino ba ang sumasama sa pagre-repack ng mga ayuda sa mga barangay? SK officials. Nung nag-distribute po tayo ng ayuda sa mga bahay-bahay, yung mga SK, sila po ang tumulong,” he explained.
Suarez added that Mayor Dimaguila’s directive to give out a monthly allowance of P1,000 to SK officials has proved to be a motivation for them to do their work better.
“Ang SK Federation ng Biñan ang tanging pederasyon sa buong Pilipinas na nag-conduct ng programa kung saan sila na po ang nagpipintura ng mga hump at pedestrian lane sa kani-kanilang mga barangay,” he reported.
“It’s not just the financial assistance – ito po ay isang paraan ng pamahalaang lungsod para maipakita natin sa ating mga kabataan na pinapahalagahan po ang kanilang sektor.”
Linggo ng Kabataan
Meanwhile, YASDO is also preparing for the celebration of the Biñan Digital Youth Week, the second time the events will be held online.
Slated for August 9 to 14, the event will once again feature webinars, online contests, and the awarding of recognition to outstanding Biñanense youth.
While they had some difficulties adapting to the "new normal" of celebrating important milestones, Suarez said he believes the events will still make an impact for the city's youth.
He added that he hopes the events will help engage the city’s youth as well as address the increasing problem of isolation and mental health problems that the pandemic has brought.
"Naniniwala po ako na ang solusyon sa mga problemang kinakaharap po ng ating lipunan ay ang tamang education po ng ating mga kabataan," he explained.