The informal economy in the Philippines is a vibrant and industrious community, forming a crucial but often overlooked cornerstone of the national economy. This sector, bustling with street vendors, jeepney drivers, and agricultural workers, is a testament to hard work and resilience. Their potential to substantially boost productivity and economic growth is enormous, but it remains underutilized due to a lack of formal recognition and support from the government.
Operating outside the formal employment framework, the informal sector is a significant contributor to the national revenue system, primarily through indirect taxes such as the Value-Added Tax (VAT) on goods and services. This contribution underscores their role as a critical economic force. If adequately nurtured and formally recognized, these workers have the capacity to thrive, enhancing their success and boosting their contributions to national development.
Angkas, a pioneering ride-hailing service in the Philippines, exemplifies the latent potential within the informal sector. Our experience has shown that with the right blend of technology, supportive policy, and political will, informal workers can successfully integrate into the formal economy. This integration not only enhances their economic stability and prosperity but also showcases their capacity to become a substantial part of the nation’s economic framework.
A pivotal moment in this journey was the recognition of Angkas bikers by PAG-IBIG, a government agency responsible for housing loans. This landmark recognition marks the transition of these workers from the economic periphery to becoming active contributors and beneficiaries of government programs. For many in the informal sector, the dream of homeownership was unattainable until this point. This achievement, without additional government expenditure, demonstrates how strategic policy and recognition can foster thriving industries.
Our initiatives at Angkas have promoted entrepreneurship, increased earnings, and created stable incomes for our bikers. We have effectively bridged them to the formal financial sector, enabling access to essential benefits such as housing loans from PAG-IBIG. Additionally, Angkas bikers now benefit from comprehensive insurance schemes, from accident to health coverage. This progression signifies a transformative social change, marking a shift in the perception and treatment of the informal sector.
The Angkas story underscores that with a well-devised strategy, informal workers can become an integral and flourishing part of the formal economy. Achieving this requires collaborative efforts from both the government and private sector to recognize, support, and integrate these workers into formal systems. Extending formal benefits and protections to the informal sector can unlock their full potential, leading to heightened productivity, economic growth, and a more inclusive economy.
The success of informal workers in transitioning into the formal economy offers a beacon of hope. It demonstrates that when given the right opportunities and support, these hardworking individuals can achieve greater success and make even more significant contributions to the national economy. The government’s role in facilitating this transition is crucial. By recognizing the contributions of the informal sector and providing them with necessary support and benefits, we can build a more equitable and prosperous society.
Amid the global upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the precarious position of the informal economy was highlighted. The implementation of safety measures revealed that workers lacking access to social protection, predominantly informal workers, bore the brunt of the health and economic crisis. This period underscored the “invisible” natu re of the informal sector, often excluded from relief efforts due to a lack of data and formal recognition.
The Department of Labor and Employment notes that a substantial 36.2 percent of the employed Filipinos (17 million) belong to the informal sector, underscoring their significance in our daily lives. Yet, their absence from formal sector employment leaves them unprotected and excluded from typical safety nets during crises.
In response, the Philippine legislature is championing the Magna Carta of Workers in the Informal Economy (MACWIE). This proposed legislative measure aims to address the multifaceted concerns of informal economy workers, spanning issues like labor rights, working conditions, and equitable wages. It includes provisions for emergency employment aid and support for small online enterprises, among other initiatives.
MACWIE endeavors to legally entrench the rights, protection, and security of workers in the informal sector, aligning with constitutional and labor law standards. It advocates for the right of these workers to organize, and directs government agencies to institutionalize social security measures. This legislation also promotes safety nets such as conditional cash transfers and emergency employment schemes.
Angkas values the importance of the Magna Carta for informal workers. Our efforts have led to our bikers’ official recognition and empowering them to contribute to social insurance and embark on the journey of homeownership.
It is imperative to sustain collaborative efforts with stakeholders and partners in championing the cause of the Magna Carta of Workers in the Informal Economy. This proactive and inclusive legislation recognizes the fundamental right to pursue a dignified livelihood and encourages the formalization of informal activities.
In conclusion, the informal sector, far from being marginal, is a vital component of the economy with immense potential. The experience of Angkas bikers illustrates what can be achieved through effective integration into the formal economy. Through recognition, support, and integration, the Philippines can unlock a new era of growth and prosperity, driven by the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit of our informal workforce.
The implementation of the Magna Carta of Workers in the Informal Economy is a pivotal step towards translating acknowledgment into actual protection and prosperity, securing their employment rights, access to healthcare, and envisioning a promising future through dedicated social and economic programs.
Before someone strikes that awful chord by saying the UP Fighting Maroons basketball team is aiming for new records of futility with three bridesmaid finishes in the past five seasons of the UAAP, most of the Diliman faithful still remember the teams of about a decade ago when UP notched a perfect record – zero wins and 14 losses. Statisticians point out that in a span of nine seasons from 2007 to 2015, the Maroons racked up an unenviable 13 wins and 113 losses, a win less than the team’s overall record this year alone which still fell a few points short of the championship.
Consuelo de bobo for the Iskolar ng Bayan, but there was a time when Diliman held a bonfire after the Maroons won their first game in two years. A solitary win to end a run of more than 20 losses overlapping three seasons surely felt like a championship, a direct contrast to the lone loss against eventual champions De La Salle University on Dec. 6 with all the marbles on the line that felt like the whole world crashing in the Big One, epicenter Sunken Garden.
Maybe it takes a while to wean oneself away from a culture of losing, or UP being UP is just not used to being the top seed, top dog doesn’t become us having gotten used to being bottom dog. Time was when we used to watch the Maroons build modest leads in the early quarters, then slowly and painfully unravel as the game wore on and fall behind by points insurmountable, indirectly proportional to numbers on the game clock. Or has that storyline ever really changed?
Well, it’s up to coach Gold and operations man Bo and the rest of the guys to pick themselves and the whole community up for Season 87, and as they say “give back” to the faithful who, back in the day, watched the games in far off Rizal Memorial as part of PE requirements. Hoarse voiced mommy herding us greenhorns outside the women’s swimming pool beside the former gymnasium that resembled a giant handbag that could perhaps be picked up by a stray alien hand from the sky, for the long ride across town in a big bus.
The hand dealt us during the first year of PE requirement to watch UAAP was a good one – after six straight losses to start the season, the Maroons won their last four games. There were only six teams in double round robin then, because both Ateneo and La Salle were in the older league NCAA.
A shooting power forward named Suarez, peppery point guard Bernardino, off guard Sonny Co were pleasant surprises in that mecca, where from the bleachers the squeak of rubber shoes on hardwood was audible as the bouncing ball and swish of net, and the smell of oil of winter green, dried sweat and occasional stale urine permeated the dark air under what felt like daylight lamps.
Then, win or lose, the traditional singing of the anthem that ends affirming that our feeling for the alma mater will never change wherever distant lands we go, yup even if it’s a championship, three runners-up and a final four appearance in the past five years. There’s always a silver lining because after all those years of losing, UP still managed a most valuable player during a winless season, the late Fort Acuña in 1969. Which just might not be possible today, even if he was a do-it-all combo guard-center forward of his era.
That’s because today’s MVPs, no matter how much of what’s called a two-way player, should at least belong to a team that made the final 4, statistical points added for the better record, not to mention potential media votes.
The omnipresent mantra runs, where to go but UP, even if it’s just one more rung so near yet so far?
Might be added that the two UP championships 36 years apart bookended the fall of the Marcos dictatorship and the return of his son to the Palace in the first tournament coming out of pandemic lockdowns. Does this mean that it will take another people power revolution or COVID-19 for UP to again win it all? Manong Johnny, of course, remembers when UP won top prize before the Pacific War, when the university was in the NCAA, just as memes declare he remembers the painful breakup of Samson and Delilah.
Oh to be immortal again in Diliman. But La Salle must be given its due, the boys from Taft having proven steadier in the clutch. To think that the legendary Brother Andrew, in a graduate class during the mid-
90s on the Malate campus, wondered why the students of the Christian brothers were so enamored of basketball, how they loved the game. Beats me, he might have said, sometimes both sides play like bums whether or not Jesus lives in their hearts.
I could be making that up about Brother Andrew, whose birthday every four years on Feb. 29 came more often than a Maroons championship. The biggest winners are guard Ricci Rivero, who won with the Archers in his rookie year then with the Maroons in his senior year, and ex-presidential daughter’s boyfriend Evan Nelle, who duplicated the feat with San Beda as rookie and now with La Salle in his swan song, both players internationalists of the first order.
The Carillon in Diliman should be ringing green songs in the spirit of sportsmanship and the season of camaraderie, marked by an exchange of sweaty shirts between opponents to conclude another great battle – till the next we try to run each other down.