Sen. Chiz Escudero said one must be careful when reading governmentfigures on the Philippine jobless rate which can be deceiving.
“The unemployment situation in the Philippines is bleaker than thegovernment would like to portray. It has mistakenly included amongthose gainfully employed the 4.21 million unpaid family workers, likesons who have dropped out of college to help till the soil anddaughters who have to mind the small sari-sari store,” he added.
He also noted that self-employed workers make up 31% of the employed,which is a virtual army of 10.7 million “sariling-sikap” workers ekingout a living through their industriousness rather than throughgovernment assistance.
Although the government says unemployment is only in the single digitsat 7.7%, there is reason to worry because the bulk of the jobless arein the youth sector.
There is also the fact that the manufacturing sector has shed 121,000jobs over the past year, and that the National Capital Region, whichaccounts for the biggest chunk of GDP, has registered the highestunemployment and underemployment rate of 14% and 12.4%, respectively.
“If there are fewer jobs in Manila, then those flocking over here toseek work are in for a rude awakening. But what’s even worse is thatfive of every 10 unemployed individuals are in the 15-24 age group,and that three of every 10 who are jobless are in the 25-34 agegroup.”
“In short, eight out of every 10 who have no work are in the youthsector, and 40% of the unemployed are either college graduates or haveat least attended college. This government is presiding over thegreatest wastage of human resources,” Escudero said.
He expressed disagreement with the government’s plan to provide jobsbecause “it’s temporary at best; job creation should be private sectordriven.”Escudero recommended that government roll out projects that can befunded by the 2009 budget while imposing job benchmarking for everypeso spent for taxes.
He also said that it was important to fund the agricultural sectoreven more; repair farm-to-market roads and other infrastructure likeirrigation; and continue supporting cooperatives.
“We should address the skills-job mismatch. Having too many nursinggraduates has created a long white line of unemployed. At the sametime, government must freeze tuition fee hikes in state colleges anduniversities to improve their holding capacity and lessen the numberof dropouts that can only lead to increased unemployment.”
US SHOULD NOT USE NICOLE’S RETRACTION TO SPIRIT OUT SMITH: CHIZ
Senator “Chiz” Escudero on Wednesday cautioned the United States notto use the retraction of Suzette Nicolas also known as Nicole as anexcuse to spirit out convicted rapist Daniel Smith out of the country.
“Nicole may have recanted but this doesn’t mean that Mr. Smith nowgoes to Washington. And the US government should be advised not to useNicole’s latest true confession to plan his exit out of the country,”the senator said in a statement. "Her affidavit is not a boarding passto freedom. Legal procedures, to which Americans are legendarysticklers to, will have to be followed.”
Escudero also said that despite this development, the Visiting ForcesAgreement should still be renegotiated because of the onerousprovision that allowed the US to hold Smith even after he wasconvicted for rape by a local court in December 2006.
“I cannot blame Nicole for deciding to settle out of court. But heraffidavit will just be treated as a mere scrap of paper unless sheaffirms it in open court,” he pointed out.
“Kawawa at api pa din ang Pilipina sa sariling bansa, paano pa kaya salabas ng bansa?” asked Escudero.
Nicolas recanted his previous claim that Smith and three other USMarines raped her in Subic Bay Freeport on November 1, 2005. OnlySmith was found guilty of rape and sentenced to 40 years in prison.
The Supreme Court has ordered the transfer of Smith from the USembassy to a detention center under the jurisdiction of Philippineauthorities until his appeal is decided on by the Court of Appeals.
The opposition senator has supported calls for the abrogation of theagreement, which governs the conduct of US soldiers participating injoint military exercises with Filipino troops in the Philippines.
The Senate is expected to deliberate on the proposed scuttling of thetreaty when it resumes sessions in April.
CHIZ, CHINA ENVOY MEET; TALKS FOCUS ON SPRATLYS
Senator Chiz Escudero said Thursday that China’s new envoy to Manila, Liu Jianchao, assured him of Beijing's stand that dialogue is the key to resolving the dispute among claimants to the Spratlys island chain in the South China Sea.
“We talked about various issues including the Baselines Law and I explained the position of the Philippines as well as the Philippine Senate on the issue,” he said in a statement.
“We agreed that any issue or conflict must be resolved through peaceful and diplomatic avenues as stipulated in the ASEAN Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea,” Escudero said.
Signed in 2002, the declaration was issued in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in order to promote a peaceful, friendly and harmonious environment in the South China Seas between Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China. Other ASEAN countries claiming the Spratlys are Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei.
Escudero also said he has accepted the Chinese envoy’s invitation to visit China during the Senate’s summer recess. The senator has previously visited Australia, the US, and Taiwan.
During the three-hour meeting on Wednesday night, the senator said the Chinese envoy agreed that the Philippines and China should continue to strengthen ties and look for more areas of cooperation in the social, political, and economic fields.
“We both expressed confidence that relations between the two countries will be strengthened and improved because of the friendship between our countries and peoples,” the senator added.