December 5, 2022

The city council is reviewing an ordinance that mandates employers in Baguio to prioritize qualified city residents in their hiring programs.

This is after the Benguet Provincial Board upheld the resolution of Tuba officials that asked the city to reconsider its Baguio-locals-first hiring policy embodied under Ordinance 48-21.

The ordinance mandates establishments, private learning institutions, and construction companies, among others to ensure 90 percent of their workforce are residents of Baguio City.

Officials of Tuba earlier asked the city government to reconsider its hiring policy since there are also job applicants from La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay (BLISTT) who may choose to work in the city, but might not be able to be given the opportunity because of the policy.

Public Employment Services Office-Baguio Labor Employment Officer III Romelda Escano told members of the city council the hiring of workers is a prerogative of the employer and the guiding principle in hiring is the fitness of the applicant to the position they are applying for.

She said in the spirit of inclusive development, embodied under the BLISTT Act, this principle should be observed, especially for applicants coming from Baguio’s neighboring towns.

“The fitness of an applicant is given primary consideration over and above any other consideration. As long as an applicant is qualified, he or she must be given an equal opportunity, regardless of where they come from,” Escano said.

Department of Labor and Employment-Cordillera Asst. Director Emerito Narag shared the view, saying in hiring, employers have the prerogative and the power to select their workers since they are the ones investing and paying for the wages and benefits of their employees.

“Employers have standards in hiring. They do not only look at the physical attributes and education and training of applicants. They put premium on skills and competency requirements,” Narag said.

He added while the intention of the Baguio-locals-first policy is good, DOLE is promoting full employment by facilitating equal access of jobseekers to local employment opportunities.

Escano and Narag were invited to the city council session on Oct. 3 for their inputs in relation to Tuba’s resolution regarding Baguio Ordinance 48-21.

Councilor Vladimir Cayabas said the intention of the ordinance is for employers to give preference to a Baguio resident who is equally qualified for a position so that “local talents will stay in the city” and not seek employment elsewhere.

Among other provisions, Ordinance 48-21 provides an employer can hire a non-Baguio worker only when there are no available, qualified, and willing applicants who are bona fide residents of the city.

The ordinance considers as Baguio residents a person who stayed in the city for six months or more.

It also requires that when securing or renewing business licenses, employers should present a certification from the PESO or the punong barangay in the area where the establishment is located that they have reached the required percentage of employees.

Escano said that since the passage of Ordinance 48-21 and based on the forms submitted to the PESO in terms of hiring during job fairs, they do not indicate discrimination.

She said PESO ensures that relevant legislations are observed and job fairs are conducted objectively.

The committee on employment was tasked to study the matter and come up with a report from which the council will have to discuss in an en banc session. – Jane B. Cadalig