Sulong Pilipinas: Youth for Progress Top Actionable Recommendations

1. Agriculture and food security: To boost countryside development, ensuring food security, and promoting the growth of agriculture, the participants urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) to work with local governments in providing organic farming training, mentorship programs, and the appropriate modern technology to farmers from impoverished communities by 2021. This includes ensuring the integrity and efficiency of the entire value chain—from farm to table—especially to ensure that farmers are not exploited.

2. Education and science and technology: To ensure continuity and quality of education at all times, the youth sector called on the Departments of Education (DepEd) and of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to improve internet infrastructure, boost speed, ensure proper training, and explore short message service or SMS and other telecommunications channels for students, parents, and teachers, by August 2020, as well as realign budgets to promote preparedness for flexible learning.

3. Financial inclusion and digitalization: To expedite the distribution of government aid to affected households during calamities and similar situations, the Departments of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and of Health (DOH), DICT and Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) should work together to incorporate the appropriate socio-economic information in the National ID System by 2021, and utilize these in data-driven and evidence-based programs.

4. Health: To ensure that the Philippines is as prepared for the “new normal” post-COVID-19, the DOH should increase testing capacity by establishing more testing centers and procuring more testing kits.

5. Infrastructure, transportation, and logistics: To avert the potential loss of jobs in the transport sector, and provide the Filipino workers with safe and efficient means of transportation, the government should contract and pay transport operators to provide transport services along high volume transit corridors; raise capacity and efficiency of public transport with improved infrastructure and safety measures; and shift to automatic fare collection to minimize subsidy requirement by the implementation of general community quarantine (GCQ) by the fourth quarter of 2020.

6. Manufacturing: To create employment for displaced workers in the countryside and provinces, the economic team (including key agencies like the Philippine Economic Zone Authority or PEZA and the Board of Investments or BOI) should work with local government units (LGUs) in developing industries; expediting strategic approval of industrial parks; and promoting these areas to foreign and local companies as destinations for investment. A technical working group (TWG) focused on countryside investment should be formed to lay out these initial measures by the end of 2020.

7. Peace and order: To ensure public trust in efforts to control the pandemic, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other law enforcement agencies should be consistent and coordinated in their enforcement of quarantine guidelines, effective immediately.

8. Services: To mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on businesses in the tourism sector for a period of six (6) months from May to October 2020, the government should explore measures such as the postponement of tax payments without penalties; discount on utilities; rental-free periods and rental rebates for facilities operating in airports; and the relaxation of government guidelines limiting hotel use, subject to necessary safety measures.

9. Social Protection: To help our citizens cope with the negative impact of COVID-19 and the climate crisis, the DSWD and LGUs should strengthen social protection by providing ample emergency relief such as emergency packs and unconditional cash transfers (UCTs) to low- and no-income families; production support to farmers and fisherfolk; wage subsidies; and increased financial assistance to informal earners, near-poor households and displaced overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) within the next few months.

10. MSME development: To help boost the economy and provide income for affected workers, the government should encourage Filipinos to support local businesses and products by providing financial and technical assistance to local micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), as well as support these businesses in the digitalization process within the next few years.

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