• Aquino hit for silence on unemployment

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    President Benigno Aquino 3rd enumerated his government’s achievements but he failed to mention the unemployment problem in his State of the Nation Address (SONA), according to a University of the Philippines (UP) economist.

    Former Budget And Management secretary Benjamin Diokno said that if Aquino is truly keen on implementing reforms to spur economic development, he has to face the problem of unemployment.

    He noted that when the President took power in 2010, the unemployment rate was at 7.2 percent.

    “Three years after, unemployment was at 7.5 percent. It has deteriorated,” he said.

    He cited figures from the Labor Force Survey of the National Statistics Office showing that the number of jobless Filipinos spiked to 7.5 percent in April 2013 higher by 0.6 percentage points compared to the 6.9 percent rate in the same period last year.

    “Yet there was no concrete action plan on how he will address joblessness, (he had) lots of numbers but no specific grand plan to make growth inclusive,” he said.

    Research group IBON made the same observation, saying that the SONA “was full of details but intentionally did not mention the most important things that matter to millions of Filipinos.”

    In a statement, the group said the President should have mentioned how the government will address unemployment, underemployment and poverty which have worsened in the last three years.

    It said that by being silent on these problems, the President “affirmed that there will not be any real social and economic reforms and the remainder of his term will see more of the same policies that have caused the country’s unprecedented jobs and poverty crisis.”

    “The long list of supposed accomplishments the SONA dwelled on—spanning infrastructure, disaster response, revenue-generation and others—was a mechanical inventory of things that any government does and is a poor indicator of achievement,” it added.

    “The president’s closing statement “Napakasarap maging Pilipino sa panahong ito” (It is wonderful to be a Filipino in times like this)” only refers to the prosperity of a few and highlights the Aquino administration’s insensitivity to the plight of the majority of Filipinos,” the research group said.

    Sen. Jose ‘Jinggoy” Estrada said the President’s speech should have included having “clear directives” on creating jobs and focusing on industries and manufacturing.
    Estrada said that Aquino should have addressed issues on job opportunities.

    “Mas maganda kasi yung binibigyan natin ng trabaho ang mga tao kaysa sa binibigyan natin sila buwan-buwan ng sustento [It is better if we generate jobs for the people rather than give them monthly doleouts],” the senator said.

    Jose Luis Yulo, president of the Chamber of Commerce of the Philippine Islands (PCCI), said that SONA properly addressed the administration’s move to improving “peace and order, the investment grade of the country, and infrastructure” that will subsequently “attract investments.”

    Yulo added that Aquino did good in addressing the economic concerns in a simple and straight manner.

    “[The president did mention] that we should all do our part, and I think that is important in helping fight corruption, and we ourselves should follow. It cannot be done by one man,” he said.

    In his speech on Monday, Aquino said the manufacturing sector contributed 28 percent to the 7.8 gross domestic product growth in the first quarter of the year.

    Meanwhile, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) meanwhile bewailed that the President did not mention human rights and the impunity with which these continue to be violated under his watch, as proven by the long list of slain journalists, activists, environmentalists, religious, lawyers, indigenous people.

    “And for all his lofty vows to weed out corruption, never did he mention that which would truly arm and empower the people to join the battle for genuinely good governance—the Freedom of Information, that which he, time and again promised when he sought our votes and then so conveniently forgot once he came to power,” the NUJP said.

    Mayvelyn Caraballo

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