Business Mirror - Binay: Credit upgrades not of much help if poverty persists

By Recto Mercene
22 Oct 2013
Despite the much-touted economic progress the country has achieved in the past three years under the Aquino administration, poverty remains a continuing concern, Vice President Jejomar Binay said.

“The Philippine economy cannot be strong if the majority of Filipinos are poor,” Binay said, as he shared his vision for the Philippine Development Plan 2011 to 2016 during the 39th Philippine Business Conference on Tuesday at the Manila Hotel.

Binay said there were two critical elements that need to be addressed: the existence of endemic poverty that affects 28 percent of the population, or roughly 26 million Filipinos, and the persistence of unemployment despite the country’s high economic growth.

“We cannot be simply ecstatic about our continuing credit upgrades without thinking about whether Amer in Lanao del Sur, Abdel in Maguindanao or Mang Jose in the mountains of Apayao or Aling Nene in the alleys of Eastern Samar are able to bring food on their table for their families,” he said.

The provinces Binay mentioned are among the poorest provinces in the country that cry for government’s attention.

“Ensuring the resiliency of our economy means ensuring the resiliency of our people. It means consciously empowering our people with the means to access and enjoy the benefits of our economic expansion,” he said.

Binay expounded on the Philippine Development Plan and laid out what the government must do to achieve inclusive growth and for the Philippines as a country to be at par with the best in the world.

He touched on the plan’s five guideposts: Anti-Corruption; Poverty Reduction and Empowerment of the Poor and Vulnerable; Rapid, Inclusive and Sustained Economic Growth; Just and Lasting Peace and the Rule of Law; and Integrity of the Environment and Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation.

“There is a ‘Ma’am Janet’, there is also an ‘Arlene’. Regardless of their nicknames, photos or the terms of endearment, whether ‘ma’am’ or ‘amiga,’ that one describes any of them, we as a Filipino nation should be constantly vigilant against any attempts to tarnish the hard work that our men and women both in the public and private sector all so work hard for: a nation that will prosper without any political partisanship and will punish the guilty as may be proven with due process of the law,” Binay said on the government’s anti-corruption efforts. He added that while the K to 12 program would bridge the mismatch between the competencies business requires from its work force and the competencies being learned by children in school in the long term, academe-business partnership also presents short-term opportunities.

“The Philippine Business for Education or PBED has brokered a pact, between business and academe, following the German Dual Technology model, to open up 100,000 paid apprenticeship positions for out-of-school high-school age youth,” he said.

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