Press Release
April 13, 2013


Senator Edgardo J. Angara urged young graduates--and first-time voters--to examine senatorial candidates' track record and programs in education, emphasizing that this is key to the challenges the country faces.

Speaking at several graduation exercises this past week, Angara said that the quality of education and training the country is equipping its youth will be critical in achieving national competitiveness by 2015, when two pivotal events will take place.

Angara first cited the creation of an ASEAN economic community by 2015, which will integrate a market consisting of 600 million people and 10 nations with a collective gross domestic product of nearly US$2 trillion.

"We will transform 10 individual nations in the ASEAN into a single market and production base that promotes the free flow of goods, services, investment, capital, and labor. Beginning 2015, Filipinos should find it easier to find work in Singapore or Malaysia, but so will Indonesians and Vietnamese," said Angara.

"Integration will, therefore, breed competition."

Angara pointed out that, despite improving economic performance, the country is at best middling compared with its Southeast Asian neighbors in terms of macroeconomic and human development indicators, such as the quality of education and workforce, unemployment rates, and foreign direct investment inflows.

"We are only ahead of our less developed neighbors Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Cambodia. But the rate they are growing and improving could erode our minimal advantage within a few years," he said.

Angara also cited that 2015 will mark the country's entry into its demographic window, a period when there would be less children and elderly dependent on every working Filipino.

"Capitalizing on this demographic change can yield enormous dividends for our country by helping raise per capita income, government revenues, and national savings, which can be used for capital investment," explained Angara.

"It is because of this demographic dividend that developed nations and newly industrialized countries, like South Korea and Singapore, attained unprecedented progress and wealth. This is our chance to catch up with them."

Angara, called "Mr. Education" for pushing for extensive reforms in the sector, emphasized that broad access to quality education and other opportunities that develop human potential will be key to creating a generation of skilled, innovative, and tech-savvy Filipinos who can compete with the best in the world.

"This is the time of knowledge workers, creative thinkers, and bold innovators. There may not be one guaranteed route toward success, but education--education and education alone--underlies every pathway," he said.

In closing, Angara reminded young graduates that, "in fulfilling your potential, you will also have fulfilled our country's."

Angara was the commencement speaker at the Benguet State University; Northwestern Visayan Colleges in Aklan; University of Antique; Filamer Christian University in Capiz; University of St. Anthony in Camarines Sur; and the University of Luzon in Pangasinan.

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