LAST Thursday, the Globe and Mail reported that Canada risks losing its lead in artificial intelligence to Silicon Valley.
AI technologies developed by Canadian pioneering firms such as facial algorithms, voice recognition and robotics are migrating to the United States.
As part of its campaign to retain and recruit AI and IT workers, provincial authorities are partnering with the federal government to “navigate immigration rules to ease the recruitment of foreign talent.”
This should be welcome news for the Aquino Administration as it can speed up deployment of IT professionals and skilled workers in the same frenzied pace of spending on infrastructure in the last year of its six-year tenure, suspiciously timed right before the presidential election.
But would it be a genuine – and not artificial – path to growth and development?
The tone and substance of President B.S. Aquino 3rd’s last State of the Nation say so.
Before there was artificial intelligence, computer and video games, we used to play hide-and-seek. The person who got to seek those hiding was called the “It” or “taya.”
Until the “It” found a person and got back to base, he remained “taya.”
If he remained the “It” for some time, he gained the moniker “babad-suka” – someone who failed in his task to get the next “It.”
Back to the July 2015 of the current political “It.”
Still taking potshots at the past Administration of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Aquino pointed out that his “predecessor took pride in ‘uninterrupted growth’ during her last SONA. Scrutinize what she said, however, and you would realize that a significant portion of this growth was fueled by remittances from Filipinos who had lost hope in our country. As they say: People were voting with their feet. If I were to imitate that style of governance, I would be loath to claim a success borne of forcing my countrymen to escape our shores.”
President B. S. Aquino 3rd, therefore, wants us to believe that his Administration will not pursue this artificial path. Or did it?
The Philippine Overseas Administration records of deployment of Overseas Filipino Workers from 2010 to 2014 show that in the first four years of his Administration, Aquino, indeed, was “successful” because of claimed growth and continued increase in OFWs “voting with their feet.”
On the local front, President Aquino confirmed that every year, “around 80,000 new entrants join our labor force.”
“In 2011, our Department of Foreign Affairs reported that there were around 9.51 million overseas Filipinos. Based on the latest estimates in December 2014, that number went down to 9.07 million. It is reasonable to say that a good number of the estimated 440,000 Filipinos represented by that decrease came home and were able to find work… Let me be clear: We created permanent jobs; we did not hire an abundance of street sweepers during the period the labor survey was conducted, just to boost results.” What kinds of jobs are available in the country?
What are the top or hottest jobs listed on PhilJobNet, the official job portal of the B. S. Aquino Administration?
Call Center Agents 168
Sales Clerk 68
Service Crew 52
Accounting Clerk 40
Delivery Driver 40
Accounting Staff 38
Customer Service Assistant 34
Civil Engineer 32
Total jobs listing 773
Yes, the total job listing on the Philippine government’s job portal nationwide is only 773.
If investment coming into the country directly translates to creation of jobs, reducing poverty and unemployment, the ratio between claimed investments and employment rate must increase as well.
In his SONA, President Aquino said to an applauding audience – “Just look: back in 2010, net foreign direct investment in our country was at $1.07 billion. In 2014, net foreign direct investments reached $6.2 billion. This is the highest ever recorded in our entire history.”
But look at the ratio, below:
So why is the outgoing Administration optimistic about the prospects of continued growth despite the overall slowdown in global economies and the raising of interest rates by the US Federal Reserve?
“The Philippines, relatively speaking, will not be hit as hard as other trade-dependent, investment-heavy countries in the region, thanks to a solid macroeconomic position,” Budget Secretary Florencio Abad told a Philippine national daily in a text message.
The Aquino government officials cite “strong consumption-driven growth, leveraged on overseas Filipino remittances and earnings from the business process outsourcing… shielding the country from tightening credit as a result of the hike.”
Ah, the OFW saviors.
The unappreciated and underpaid Filipino workers, not the Philippine government, are expected to keep the economy alive, growing and developing.
What categories of workers have the Aquino and Arroyo administration sent abroad or caused to vote on their feet?
Then, in his last or year-end media briefing, NEDA Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balicasan accurately noted that “the government should rebalance the economy by becoming less dependent on consumption demand and relying more on investments.
He also emphasized “a need to improve the quality of jobs in order to end poverty, as well as to “further improve the quality of jobs available in the market and upgrade the skills of our labor force. This is the bigger challenge. Sustained increases in labor incomes can only come about by raising productivity.”
Surely, OFWs are aware that their productivity, quality of jobs and better pay come from overseas employment not those “created” by the government.
In his first SONA, President Aquino emphasized: “A reminder to all: creating jobs is foremost on our agenda, and the creation of jobs will come from the growth of our industries. Growth will only be possible if we streamline processes to make them predictable, reliable and efficient for those who want to invest.
The Aquino Administration cannot claim success. Instead, as he stated in his first SONA he should loathe such a claim because the Aquino government (“It”) simply followed what its predecessor did: continued deployment of OFWs, relying on remittances for the country to remain relatively unscathed by global financial volatility.
The verifiable facts above and affirmation of the NEDA secretary show that to date, President Aquino’s intelligence remained in the realm of the artificial, despite his being the “It” since 2010.