(October 16, 2011) The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the city government of Tacurong through the Public Employment Service Office (PESO) on October 3 released livelihood assistance to nine individuals residing in the city.

The nine recipients, three of them former overseas workers and the other six all shoe repairmen or sapateros, belong to what is termed as workers in the informal economy. DOLE-Sultan Kudarat Field Officer Arlene Bisnon and City Mayor Lina Montilla turned over the various tools and jigs to the recipients during the Monday flag ceremony at the city hall.

The sapateros each received a complete set of shoe repair materials including a heavy duty repair table with cabinet, rubber soles, waxes and threads among others. Each set was worth a little less than five thousand pesos. The three former overseas workers who opted to stay in the country to start their respective small businesses also received tools and jigs.

Heidi Eliarda, who worked in the Middle East for few years but decided to go back home to start a banana barbeque or turunan business inside the city public market, received more than four thousand pesos worth of start-up materials such as sugar, oil and raw bananas. “With my family being financially-hard up right now, the start-up capital I received is already a big help to augment my income”, Eliarda said in Hiligaynon.

Bisnon said that, instead of giving free dole outs, DOLE has shifted to a more practical and effective strategy of giving assistance, which is provision of tools and jigs. She said that in this way, there is an assurance that the aid will be really used for the intended purpose. “In identifying the recipients, we see to it that they are already skilled in their ventures and it is them who give us the list of what they need”, Bisnon said.

Mayor Montilla praised the department’s project of giving livelihood kits instead of cash assistance. “I think it’s time for the city government to implement this scheme to make sure that whatever assistance we give will definitely be put into use”, she said. (Allan Freno, LGU-Tacurong PESO)