Press Release
November 16, 2011


Economic turbulence across Western Europe, Japan and the United States is stoking widespread civic unrest over increasing social inequity and lack of decent jobs, developments that the Philippine government cannot afford to ignore.

In his sponsorship speech of the 2012 National Budget, Angara called on the administration to purposefully channel spending toward creating a knowledge-based and innovative-driven economy to raise living standards, generate quality jobs, boost competitiveness and enhance access to education and infrastructure.

"These recent events highlight how a world that has become more prosperous, by and large, has also become more inequitable--stoking widespread unrest and discontent," said Angara, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance. "The national budget is our foremost weapon to respond to these challenges."

He cited the political and social tides spreading across the Middle East, and the Occupy Movement across major cities in the United States and Western Europe--both indicators of growing public restlessness over massive unemployment and widespread corruption.

"The government can no longer afford to be a passive actor," he stressed. "We have a unique opportunity to escape this turmoil relatively unscathed if we do the right things at the right time."

Angara sponsored the budgets of the following agencies: the Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the State Universities and Colleges (SUC's), the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Cultural Institutions and the Housing Agencies.

"Education, science and technology, culture and the arts, trade and industry, shelter--these are the core elements that define who we are and what we can become," he said.

According to Angara, the DepEd budget will be utilized to overcome physical shortages such as seats and desks, water and sanitation facilities, as well as address important issues of effective teaching methods, retraining of teachers in math, science and communication arts, and the use of educational technology.

There is also a need to prepare the school system for ICT connectivity, and scale up the feeding program as 2 million children go to school hungry everyday.

As for higher education, CHED and the different SUC's are gearing up to boost the country's capacity for research and development (R&D) through the model of innovation clusters--a consortium of industry, academe, government and international collaboration in six key areas that will develop usable R&D to address pressing challenges such as food security, health and wellness, energy access, and knowledge access.

These innovation clusters are on Algae Research & Commercialization, Cloud Computing and Software as a Service (SaaS), Smart Agriculture and Precision Farming, Responsible Mining Technologies, Disaster Science and Management, and Natural Health and Nutritional Products.

Angara, Chair of the Senate Committee on Education, Culture and the Arts, also recommended the promotion of intercultural relations through funding for the Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day and support for the digitization and preservation of priceless papers and documents in the National Library.

CHED's Higher Education Development Fund (HEDF) will also fund extension services of SUC's in the Cordilleras, for cultural preservation, biodiversity protection and climate change adaptation.

Meanwhile, the allocation for the DTI seeks to take advantage of the Asian renaissance, as trade and economic activity shifts back to the Pacific. DTI's budget includes funding for encouraging industries to do business in free trade areas, fostering the growth of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and helping the country qualify for entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free-trade initiative among the U.S. and eight APEC members: Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Angara also highlighted the importance of housing construction in creating jobs especially in rural and poor areas.

He cited statistics from the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) showing that every 100 jobs generated in the housing sector creates an additional 18 jobs in ancillary industries, at a cost of only P6,504 to create one job. Every P1 investment in construction also yields an additional economic output of almost P2.

However, Angara pointed out that housing agencies only have a total of P6.975 billion when P361 billion is required from now until 2016 to provide housing assistance for 1.5 million Filipinos. Angara called for increased involvement of the private companies and the banking sector to address this lack.

"I am optimistic that the passage of the 2012 National Budget will not only shield us from increasing external turmoil, but also help us take advantage of the opportunities for economic growth before us," Angara concluded.

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