BAGUIO CITY – Each year for 24 years now, the Special Program for the Employment of Students (SPES) of the City Government and partner agencies helps hundreds of poor but deserving students to support their education by providing them summer jobs.
The student grantees came from low income families and were physically and mentally fit as part of the qualification standards of the program.
Last year, the Public Employment Services Office under the City Mayor’s Office which spearheads the program expanded the coverage of the SPES to include students with disabilities including those physically and mentally challenged.
Secretary to the Mayor and PESO Manager George Fortea and labor and employment officer Romelda Escano said this is in compliance with City Council Resolution No. 22-2017 requesting the allocation of more SPES slots for SWDs.
SPES Baguio focal person Jannah Vivian Elitan said they employed four SWDs last year, three of whom were physically challenged while the other had autism.
They were deployed in offices based on their competencies and limitations and managed to produce good results, Elitan said.
“That is why this year, we are again taking in the one with autism who impressed his workmates at the Office of the City Social Welfare and Development Office for being able to withstand an eight-hour job and would have gladly accepted again the rest had they been able to apply but unfortunately were not able to because of their conflicting school schedule,” Elitan said.
In addition, they also hired one with club foot and two deaf-mute who joined the first batch of grantees that began their month-long tour of duty last Monday.
Elitan said, some students with learning disabilities are also expected to join the second batch who will start work in late May.
The PESO’s bases for hiring SWDs include recommendations from their schools. These grantees came from St. John Paul II Learning Center, the Baguio City Special Education Center and Easter Colleges.
They must also belong to families whose combined net income after tax does not exceed the latest annual regional poverty threshold level for a family of six.
Under the program, the grantees are entitled to receive wages, 60 percent of which will be paid by the city government while 40 percent will be shouldered by the Dept. of Labor and Employment.
The SPES is based on Republic Act No. 7323 or an Act to Help Poor but Deserving Students Pursue their Education by Encouraging their Employment during Summer and/or Christmas Vacations, through Incentives Granted to Employers, Allowing them to Pay only Sixty per Centum of their Salaries or Wages and the Forty per Centum through Education Vouchers to be paid by the Government, Prohibiting and Penalizing the Filing of Fraudulent or Fictitious claims and for other purposes.
By: Aileen P. Refuerzo