December 1, 2011
Senator Francis ‘Kiko’ Pangilinan today urges the government to create jobs that will expand the labor force outside the business process outsourcing sector, adding that doing so will provide more sustainable growth within the country’s economy.
“The Philippines has long been focusing on becoming an industry- and commerce-driven economic giant, but we learned that this is not sustainable as factories that have set up shop here have moved on to other countries that they find more economically viable. The government must now look at focusing on creating opportunities from within the backbone of our economy–agriculture and agri-industry.”
Pangilinan, who is the Chairman of Senate the Committee on Agriculture and Food, believes that the Philippines has still largely an agricultural-based economy and that the serious neglect of the country’s agriculture and fisheries sector is the reason why the country has failed to catch up with its Asian neighbors.
“With over 60 percent of the country’s labor force directly and indirectly employed by the agriculture sector and nearly half of our GDP coming from agriculture and agri-industry and enterprise, we can no longer ignore this crucial sector. We acknowledge the economic boost that the BPO sector has provided us, but it is not sustainable. As the population remains concentrated in the urban areas, we could once again experience a plateau, and oversaturation will force many of these companies to close shop, much like what happened with the industrial sector in the 90s.”
“All the developed Asian nations-Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam-have focused on developing and modernizing agriculture and improving the quality of life of their farmers and fisherfolk. We are deluding ourselves into thinking that we are an industry- and commerce-driven economy. This is the reason why we neglected the agriculture and fisheries sector in the first place. This is the reason why we seem to be running in place all this time, as we see our Asian neighbors go past us.”
He reiterates: “Let us focus on creating opportunities in the countryside and let us spread out our labor force throughout the country. This will address poverty in the rural areas and overcrowding in the urban areas. The agriculture, fisheries, and agri-industry sectors hold the answers to our economic woes.”