IN line with the directive of President Ferdinang "Bongbong" Marcos

Jr., Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma ordered a review of labor policies, department orders and other issuances to make the department attuned to the administration's goal of uplifting the lives of Filipino workers.

Laguesma said that the President has given him no marching orders, but he was specifically instructed to address the problems hounding

the labor sector and improve welfare of the workers.

"The President has specifically instructed me to take care of our workers, to ensure better labor conditions for the country's workforce," Laguesma told The Manila Times in a phone interview.

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"Part of what he said is to study the situation at the DoLE, to implement programs that aid in the recovery of the country," Laguesma said.

He added that a review is ongoing on the various programs of the labor department such as human resources development, job generation, and worker-employer relations, among others, and to implement them with the goal of speeding up economic recovery.

The labor chief stressed that maintenance of industrial peace is a shared responsibility that must be done by complying with the existing laws and ethical practices. The end goal is to improve productivity improvement and expand enterprises.

"We should have an environment that inspires and encourages expansion of existing businesses. If we are to invite investors, we should have a healthy and harmonious labor and investor environment and help support the government's undertaking to create jobs," he added.

He explained that in the face of the challenges, the government must strike a balance by protecting the the workers and also considering the rights of businesses to reasonable returns for their investments.

"Labor and business should respect each other's rights. Employers and workers are social partners. Workers should strive to be more productive and investors should share their profits in terms of

additional benefits to their workers," Laguesma said in Filipino,

adding that it's all part of the instructions of the President.

To achieve it, he said that DoLE would always be open to dialogues with both workers and employers.

The President, he added, wants the labor department to become a more responsible and responsive institution that reaches out to needy workers, especially those in rural areas.

With the creation of the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW),Laguesma pointed out that the labor department could now focus on local employment.

"The creation of the Department of Migrant Workers does not make our job easier. But we can now focus on our local workers," he added.

At least six labor agencies under the DoLE will be transferred to the jurisdiction of the DMW after the latter has evolved into a full-fledged department of government.

These agencies are the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs), International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB), National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the National Maritime Polytechnic (NMP).

On the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) proposal to rightsize government agencies, which could lay off up to 2 million workers, Laguesma encouraged state workers not to be rattled

by the government's rightsizing plan on the bureaucracy as it may not

actually mean downsizing the public labor force.

He pointed out that rightzing connotes simplifying office procedures in connection with the belt-tightening measure pushed by the DBM

Such can involve transfer of human resources from one office to another to make the system more effective, said Laguesma, adding that in the private sector where he came from, rightsizing means streamlining of processes and structural reforms.

"When you talk of streamlining, it's all about making work in a business easier and fruitful. On the other hand, structural reforms imply changes on the way the government works. I don't see downsizing of the workforce in those definitions," he said.

Laguesma called for calmness among public servants who fear of losing their jobs because of the DBM proposal, since increasing the

number of jobless Filipinos is not the goal of the government.

"Let's be more positive with rightsizing, where the possibility of transferring or even hiring of more people by a government with

lots of tasks to perform is very high," Laguesma added.

Laguesma said the DoLE would remain faithful in its mandate to promote the welfare of workers both in the private and public sectors.

"Whatever happens, the DoLE would always champion the security and safety of our workers, whether they are government servants or employees of private institutions," Laguesma said.