April 17, 2024

Members of the Baguio City Council cited the discrepancies in the implementation of the First Time Jobseekers Assistance Act or Republic Act 11261 in the city during their regular session on Feb. 19.

The First Time Jobseekers Assistance Act aims to provide assistance to first-time jobseekers by waiving government fees and charges related to the processing of essential documents for employment such as NBI clearance, police clearance, barangay clearance, birth certificate, medical certificate, and transcript of records.

The law seeks to cushion the financial burden of newly graduated students and first-time job applicants in the country as they enter the workplace.

While representatives of all offices and institutions asserted their commitment to implementing the law, concerns arose during the council discussion. 

Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda pointed out discrepancies between the law and its implementing rules and regulations (IRR), which led to confusion about which institutions should be covered by the law.

Answering Tabanda’s question whether private universities charge fees for the processing of transcript of records, University of the Cordilleras Vice President for Academic Affairs Dorai Ngolob said they charge fees for such documents.

Section 4(f) of the Act states that there are no fees collected from first time jobseekers when obtaining transcript of academic records issued by “state” colleges and universities.

According to Tabanda, while Section 4(g) specifies “state” colleges and universities, Section 5(f) of its IRR extends the coverage to include “local” universities and colleges. This discrepancy raised questions about whether private institutions are covered by the law and whether they should be implementing its provisions. 

The councilor said the law prevails over its IRR in cases where there are discrepancies between them.

Civil Service Commission-Cordillera Director Fernando Mendoza referred to the IRR and said graduates from all schools, colleges, universities, and learning institutions are included in the coverage.

“Based sa IRR, inclusive po siya. Hindi po naka-classify kung private or public,” Mendoza said.

Tabanda said there is a need to clarify the definition of “local” universities and colleges, particularly those owned or operated by the local government units.

Mendoza acknowledged there is no inter-agency monitoring committee at the regional level.

Councilor Arthur Allad-iw said it is important to put into place a local monitoring mechanism to ensure compliance with the law.

The discussion was an offshoot of a council resolution authored by Councilor Vladmir Cayabas reminding government agencies and offices to comply with the provisions of the law.

The resolution seeks to ease the financial burden associated with employment requirements for fresh graduates and first-time job seekers and urges government agencies and offices to adhere to the law, thereby facilitating  first-time job applicants’ entry into the workforce and promoting their economic opportunities. – Jordan G. Habbiling