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BLASTED BE THE POOR



ERSTWHILE The Manila Times columnist Teodoro “Doroy” Valencia once served in the 1970s as head honcho for the outfit that saw to the upkeep of Rizal Park. He had a quaint hiring policy: he tapped the services of ex-convicts, those with criminal records that are unlikely to get themselves either a job or a chance to show to all and sundry that they’re “going straight.”

Ka Doroy reasoned that he wanted them to show to society that they’re indeed reformed. And given gainful employment, they would seek redemption, and take out the taint of incarceration through dint of honest work, so he argued. It did make sense—and made a difference in the light of current job hiring trends.

Such a hiring policy that the extant National Press Club president—and he may now be doing a few turns in his final place of repose—set in place and as example may cause human resource managers these days to writhe and squirm in distaste. Distrust if not downright paranoia with a bit of the ridiculous thrown in—these are codified into the requirements it takes for the less skilled among Filipinos to land themselves a no-brainer menial job that usually lasts for less than six months.

Before a hapless job applicant gets anywhere near a job, several government agencies he has to obtain clearances from have cleared his pockets of significant sums.

Recounts Rev. Fr. Shay Cullen in a recent column: “Roger, a poor boy asked me to help him get a job as a janitor in a fast food restaurant. He would be paid a minimum wage and allowed to have one meal a day. He just had to mop the floor and clean the toilets for eight hours. But to get the job the company demanded a bunch of documents. He had to have a high school diploma, a health certificate, an x-ray, a birth certificate, two police clearance certificates, a letter of recommendation, a mayor's work permit and money for a uniform.

“For every document there is a fee to be paid, so the very poor are excluded and can’t even get a job that needs little training as a janitor.

“However, hundreds of thousands of youth are unemployed because of these ridiculous and expensive requirements. When he got the job he was fired (in less than) six months so as not to have him qualify as a regular we employee and get additional health benefits. That's why hundreds of thousands go jobless and hungry.”

So, we shower hallelujahs on our taipans and captains of industry who have raked zillions of profits on the backs of casual or temporarily hired manpower who toil for a pittance in five months, fired before they can get past six months of employment that automatically turns them into regular workers.

Thus, out-of-work casuals and temps will have to go through the same gauntlet anew to secure clearances, documents and other ridiculous requirements meant to keep their pockets light and their hearts heavy.

As for the job-seeking have-nots wrung again and again in such rigmarole of getting gainfully employed, what whit of blessing can the haves afford them?

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