Technical Education Skills Development Authority (Tesda) chief Joel Villanueva admitted on Thursday that the agency has received P1.1 billion from the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) of President Benigno Aquino 3rd, but stressed that the fund was used to finance various skills training programs of the agency.
Villanueva said the DAP-funded training programs – which give priority to poor youth – yielded high employment rate, putting to work more than 90,000 graduates of various technical vocational (tech-voc) courses.
He said the fund, which was released to the agency in October 2011, was backed by records and an authentic list of beneficiaries to prove that this was used properly.
“This [fund]produced close to 150,000 graduates. The Disbursement Acceleration Program of the Aquino government yielded good results for us and the thousands of graduates that are now gainfully employed,” Villanueva said. “It’s not always the devil that is in the details, the good can be found, too, if we will just bother to check.”
“Pero tingnan din sana natin na marami ang hindi nakikita ng mga kababayan ang benefit nitong programa ng ating pamahalaan. I have the listings of the beneficiaries; their names, their addresses and the telephone numbers. I’m more than willing to share with anybody. Ang sa’kin lang naman sana’y makita din natin that our government is doing everything para matulungan ang mga kababayan natin,” he added.
The Tesda chief explained that the funds were used to supplement the Training for Work Scholarship Program (TWSP), in which P500 million went to the IT-BPO [Information Technology-Business Process Outsourcing] sector, and P600 million to support the skills requirement in four priority sectors – agriculture/agri-business; tourism, retirement, health and wellness; general infrastructure; and electronics/semi-conductor.
“The TWSP is one of our existing programs funded under the General Appropriations Act. Based on our data, six out of 10 graduates who availed of the scholarship got employed within six months to one year after training,” Villanueva said.
In the IT-BPO sector, 75,479 completed the training from the 75,682 individuals who enrolled. This resulted to a 70.9 percent employment rate for those programs implemented in partnership with the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP). BPAP has provided Tesda with the list of the names, addresses and contact numbers of the employed graduates for this sector.
To maximize resources and ensure high employment rate of graduates, Tesda partnered with BPAP for the joint management of the implementation of the TWSP.
Under the memorandum of agreement, Tesda allocated scholarship vouchers to BPAP to train near-hires in the IT-BPO industry for “pre-employment training and retooling of incoming workers in the IT-BPO sector.”
With this partnership from the BPO industry, Villanueva assured that 70.9 percent of the graduates will be hired by the BPO companies.
“So, in that way we could just imagine the pressure on their end to ensure the beneficiaries would be able to finish the program,” he said.
The Tesda chief also cited that the Philippines is now the number one in the voice service or the call center.
“The BPO sector is having a phenomenal growth and they are looking to becoming US$25 billion industry that they will exceed our OFWs’ [overseas foreign workers’]remittances before the Aquino administration term ends,” Villanueva said.
BPAP, on the other hand, engaged its different associations for the training requirements, such as the Animation Council of the Philippines for Animation, Contact Center Association of the Philippines, Healthcare Information Management Outsourcing Association of the Philippines, Philippine Software Industry Association, and the National ICT Council of the Philippines. These associations in turn engaged Tesda-accredited companies and training institutions with Tesda-registered programs to undertake the training of qualified near-hires.
An additional P18 million was allocated for the BPAP for the implementation of the Training Methodology Plus (TM Plus) program for 900 IT-BPO trainers.
In the semi-conductor sector, one of the industry partners of Tesda is the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines, which produced a total of 2,404 graduates, of which 2,044 or 85 percent are already employed.
For the other four priority sectors, there were 73,632 graduates out of the 73,848 who enrolled. This can be further broken down as follows: Agriculture/Agri-business (2,473 graduates); Tourism, Retirement, Health and Wellness (42,712 graduates); General Infrastructure (21,793 graduates); and, Electronics and Semi-conductor (6,654 graduates).
When asked if he was aware that the fund was already called as DAP, Villanueva said: “DAP is a mechanism, it is not something you call ito na ‘yung bagong. . . when it was given to us that’s part of the savings the President feels that this is a priority program.”
“We are very confident of its legality. We are very confident of implementing this program. Right now, it’s very obvious that this country is sleeping in the foot of our labor and the labor of our executive department,” he added.
As clamor to abolish lawmakers’ pork barrel funds and the President’s DAP becomes a growing public outcry, the Tesda chief however believed that not all legislators and politicians have had misused their pork barrel.
“I think sayang, just like PDAF although I have the change of heart na i-abolish na ‘yan because of the things that were going na kailangan linisin muna bago tingnan at gumawa ng pamamaraan para mapagserbisyuhan ang ating mga kababayan. Parang apoy yan eh, hindi lahat ng apoy nakakasunog, merong apoy na nakakapagluto ng pagkain,” Villanueva said, who was once a three-term party-list representative.
“I hope and pray na maging open tayo dun, lalo na sa mga magagandang nangyayari. Tingin ko mas madami pa ring magandang nangyayari,” the Tesda chief added. NEIL A. ALCOBER