COTABATO CITY – A measure aimed at establishing a comprehensive database system for informal workers in the Bangsamoro region entered its first reading on the last day of the regular session this month of June.
BTA Bill No. 194, or the Informal Economy Registration and Bangsamoro Database Act, has been introduced by MP Atty. Rasol Mitmug Jr., who emphasized the need for such a database to address the quality of employment among informal workers and to assist local government units in providing standardized identification for relief assistance during times of natural or manmade disasters.
Informal workers encompass various sectors, including daily wage earners such as public transport drivers, vendors, and small and medium enterprises in both the retail and service sectors.
The proposed bill seeks to cover all workers and economic units, ranging from enterprises and entrepreneurs to households in the informal economy. This includes home-based workers, employees holding informal jobs for formal enterprises or economic units in the informal economy, workers in unrecognized or unregulated employment relationships, agricultural workers or fisherfolk engaged in unrecognized or unregulated agricultural or fishing activities, and non-regular domestic workers.
Citing the National Statistics Office’s Informal Sector Survey (2008 ISS) of the Philippines, it was revealed that there were approximately 10.5 million informal sector operators in 2008.
The survey indicated that 41.3% of these operators were engaged in agriculture, hunting, and forestry, while 29.6% were involved in wholesale and retail trade.
The data from the Labor Force Survey highlighted that 38.3% of those employed were in vulnerable forms of employment, lacking formal work arrangements and access to social protection. These vulnerable workers are at higher risk during crises or shocks.
Atty. Mitmug emphasized that the lack of statistics or data makes informal workers vulnerable to exploitation and abuse as they generally operate outside the scope of government oversight.
The socio-economic impact assessment of COVID-19 in the BARMM conducted by the United Nations Development Programme revealed that mobility restrictions had a significant impact on work and businesses, leading to income declines, work stoppages, reduced working hours, and increased unemployment, particularly affecting the informal economy sector.
The report further emphasized that women and children were more likely to bear the brunt of the social and economic consequences of the pandemic.
To address these challenges, the report recommended the establishment of a database on vulnerable sectors to enhance policy effectiveness, an assessment of current social protection programs in BARMM to enhance efficiency and effectiveness, and a transition toward universal social protection.
Atty. Mitmug emphasized the need to provide assistance to informal workers through meaningful policies, programs, activities, and other interventions, considering the substantial number of workers who lost their incomes during the lockdown and the subsequent impact on the economy.
Under the bill, the Ministry of Labor and Employment, together with the Bangsamoro Planning and Development Authority, will establish and maintain a regional database of workers, economic units, and organizations or associations of the informal economy.
The regional database will serve as the official registry and basis for the Bangsamoro government to provide assistance and interventions related to the informal economy, such as plans, programs, projects, and activities.
Deputy Speaker Atty. Laisa Alamia, MPs Atty. Suharto Ambolodto, Rasul Ismael, Engr. Don Mustapha Loong, Engr. Baintan Adil-Ampatuan, Amilbahar Mawallil, Eddie Alih, Atty. John Anthony Lim, Tarhata Maglangit, Dr. Kadil Sinolinding Jr., Dr. Hashemi Dilangalen, Atty. Randolph Parcasio, Atty. Ishak Mastura, Bassir Utto, and Ibrahim Ali are co-authors of said bill. (LTAIS-Public Information, Publication, and Media Relations Division)