Press Release
August 12, 2006


Senator Edgardo J. Angara yesterday described the problem of joblessness in the country as a direct effect of a highly-centralized and restrictive system of government.

Speaking before tourism students at the Holy Cross of Davao College, and then at a succeeding forum attended by student council presidents of various colleges and universities in Zamboanga City, Angara said that "unless we do something drastic, unless we reform our government system, unless we improve our investment laws and unless we preserve our cultural and historical heritage, we won't be able to create enough jobs to absorb the 700,000 young people who enter the job market every year."

Angara noted that there are only 200,000 jobs available each year, and half of that is in agriculture. Of the 700,000 Filipinos entering the job market, 300,000 come from the formal school systems. There are 2,700 Filipinos who leave the country every week to look for jobs abroad. He said that these Filipino emigrants belong particularly to the professional and technically-skilled labor force like engineers, computer programmers, health workers and teachers.

"Because we can't create enough job opportunities here, the talented and skilled graduates or professionals are forced to work abroad, and you cannot blame them," Angara said.

Angara also noted that the system of government contributes to the problem of joblessness. He said that a decentralized autonomous regime can possibly open gates to job creation.

"Growth must come from all regions, and this cannot happen with a highly centralized Manila-centric system of government. This kind of archaic system is the reason why there is no consistency of growth in our provinces. We are literally caught in a time warp," he said.

Angara also said that while the call center industry offers considerable job opportunities todayabout 50,000 call center jobs in a year a greater number of jobs can be created if the country also improves its investment line in the agriculture sector.

"In agriculture, over 100,000 jobs can be created in a year. But, at present, most of them, even members of their household, are unpaid labor," said Angara who was Agriculture Secretary before his current term in the Senate.

"For instance, we have to build more farm-to-market roads so that our farmers, even from the remotest areas, can deliver their products to the market and sell them. And if a starting entrepreneur wants to open his own business, there must be easy access to agencies or financing institutions from which we could borrow money," Angara said.

"At present, three out of ten Filipinos are jobless and are living below the poverty line. If our problems are joblessness, low income, high prices of goods, and poverty, then the majority of our efforts should be geared towards job creationextending credit, micro-finance, and building strategic and well-planned infrastructure," he continued.

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