Philippine government appears helpless against joblessness

Editorial cartoon: Bulletin Today

Editorial cartoon: Bulletin Today

By Ludy Astraquillo Ongkeko, Ph.D.

A visit to the homeland provided a golden opportunity to listen to commentaries
from Filams who love to visit their childhood homes as often as they can, hence their frequent trips.

Key to the information I received is how one deep concern in the Philippines is being put aside. Karen, my news source, is a close kin to one top official from the nation’s executive department. She asked not to be named, only her second name.

“As often as I can, at least thrice a year, I return to my original home,” she said.

Karen started to dwell on the multi-faceted problems today’s Philippines faces.

“Of course, corruption is a chief problem. But what can one do with those ‘professional politicians’ who make a living (steeped in luxury too) out of their elected positions? The law cannot catch up with all those who live with corruption…I still believe what ails the country’s population is joblessness.”

Then and there, Karen ran into statistics.

She described how crucial the picture looks: 12.4 million Filipinos are jobless; this was confirmed by the latest Social Weather Station’s survey, the highest number posted for Year 2014.

“Why would the government ignore that? was Karen’s strong question.

“It should bring a sense of urgency for the government to come up with ‘more efficient measures for job creation.’ I don’t see the reason why the so-called leaders in industry, for example don’t step up to looking into how to solve joblessness.

“Is our home country unable to see how joblessness has led to slow growth rate of the global economy? Unemployment has worsened in Europe and Latin America. We don’t need to look at Africa and the Middle East where there are numbers of overseas Filipino workers and their count continues to rise.

“We have agricultural government agencies; why can’t agriculture be looked into? We see the population in Metro Manila on the increase and still mounting.

A bleak future: ‘How is joblessness addressed by so-called leaders in government?’

A bleak future: ‘How is joblessness addressed by so-called leaders in government?’

“Why can’t the government see to the return of those who come from the provinces where agriculture and fishing can be availed of?”

Karen went on to enumerate what living in Manila might prove to be negatives for those who are ‘new arrivals’ from multi-provincial scenes.

“They don’t have the idea where they would live; who would employ them; where will their children go to school, if they bring along their families?

“Each time I come home, I see more and more people. More and more traffic problems. Who creates these? I have one answer. Vehicles and people, of course. Those from the provinces, without the slightest knowledge of how to drive in line with traffic rules prevailing are bold. Yet, if driving offers livelihood, they need what there is to prop them up.

“How is joblessness addressed by the so-called leaders in government?”

Karen strongly believes, joblessness is what stares at people who keep on moving to Manila, and the government looks helpless.

Going back to agriculture, Karen has wondered why the agriculture sector cannot move at a faster pace through local and foreign investment. She mentioned how the American Chamber of Commerce has worked for the creation of more jobs in its push for strengthening the agriculture sector.

“By strengthening agriculture where the bulk of the country’s labor force could be tapped, government should, and must come up with more policies to boost confidence of investors and make it conducive for them to pour money into manufacturing facilities that are bound to make processed agricultural products, not just agricultural produce.”

Karen mentioned what tourism can do to generate more jobs. She pointed out how some seven million tourists are known to visit the Philippines each year.

“Wouldn’t more tourists come if they can see how roads are maintained? Construction and maintenance of some 679 kilometers of access roads to tourist sites are vital to keep tourism alive and well.”

I felt Karen’s views are very valid. How many FilAms who have ‘established’ themselves away from the homeland are current with the times there?
But what can FilAms and others who live abroad do? Can their voices be heard?

Aside from her frequent visits, Karen humbly said she leaves behind whatever funds she can donate to institutions that need assistance badly: orphanages and homes where young girls who have experienced what it is to be ‘battered’ seek shelter.

Whether everyone agrees with Karen’s analysis of how disturbing it is to see how joblessness prevails, it is a given. The government might not be able to provide solutions; but how it will attempt to tackle that growing issue, is what counts at this stage.

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