Press Release
September 15, 2013

Cayetano: Tap famed Marikina shoemakers for AFP combat boots

Senate Majority Leader Alan Cayetano on Saturday urged the government to source footwear from the famed shoemakers of Marikina for the use of soldiers and other uniformed personnel as a show of support for an alarmingly declining local shoe industry.

Speaking at the opening of the Marikina Shoe Festival in Eastwood Plaza, Quezon City Saturday night, Cayetano also pledged to propose legislation that will ensure the continued viability and success of the local footwear sector by providing manufacturers with access to capital at very low interest rates.

During the occasion, he took note of the sorry state of the country's soldiers who go to battle with faded uniforms and worn out combat boots, as he offered a solution that is seen to solve two problems at the same time.

"While our soldiers fight tooth and nail to protect the liberties we enjoy today, we are practically shooting ourselves in the foot when we fail to provide them with even the bare necessities such as reliable combat boots," Cayetano pointed out in an ambush interview.

"So let us put our best foot forward by tapping the country's best and renowned source of footwear. Not only will we better equip our soldiers in battle, but we will be aiding a local industry that has seen a sharp decline over the years," he added.

By doing this, he explained, government is establishing a clear policy of buying locally made products and consequently setting a good example to the general public to patronize Filipino-made consumer goods.

Cayetano added that promoting locally made products should start from within the country's leadership in order to establish a strong message that supporting local industries would lead to inclusive growth.

"A strong and vibrant local industry will lead to lower and more competitive prices of local goods, more jobs, and higher income for Filipino workers," he said stressing the importance of addressing problems related to "Presyo, Trabaho, Kita (PTK)" to overcome poverty in the country.

Bill on anti- "5-6" loan system

While there is no shortage of talented shoemakers in the country, Cayetano admitted that the shoemaking industry faces many challenges and vowed to continue supporting small business owners who need access to capital.

"I will push for legislation that will provide funding for small loans to cooperatives and small enterprises. This will carry a two to three percent interest rate which is much lower than the 20 percent paid to the 5-6 loan system," he said, adding that this measure is aimed at helping small ventures thrive in a fast-paced business environment.

He explained that proper government support through increased access to capital would revive dying local industries and consequently generate more jobs.

"The more people buy locally produced products, the more jobs we generate," he said.

"With proper government support, we can show the world that Filipino products are world class," he said labeling the local shoe industry as among "the country's pride and prime source of job opportunities".

The senator said the waning interest in locally-produced goods should be seen as a challenge shared by the government and those in the shoemaking industry.

"Look at it as a challenge we have to overcome. We have what is necessary to succeed: a vibrant shoemaking history, rich culture, and much talent. Do not back down when you come upon obstacles because many consider our products to be world-class," he said.

The senator likewise lamented that in the Marikina shoe industry alone, the drops in the amount of manufacturers and workers over the years have been alarming. "From 104,800 jobs available and 513 manufacturers operating in the area in 1994, these have dropped to 42,300 jobs and 188 manufacturers in 2003, and finally to less than 6,000 jobs and just 31 manufacturers in 2011," he said.

Cayetano stressed that the plan to revive the dying industry of shoe production in the country needs concerted effort from both national and local government units (LGUs) to succeed.

He was quick to laud Marikina City officials for their initiatives to support the local shoe-making industry and encouraged other LGUs to follow this lead.

"This only shows that with proper government support, local industries can be given the chance to survive. But LGUs cannot do it alone, they need support from the national government," he added.

The Marikina Shoe Festival is a week-long event in Eastwood City Plaza.

"This shoe festival is a good way of promoting products made by Filipinos, it is a step in the right direction for reviving the shoemaking industry and rest assured that we in the government are here to assist you in achieving this," Cayetano said.

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