By Hannah Torregoza
After being hailed as the top best country to invest in, the government should make sure that the Philippines is also the best country to work in.
Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara made the call after the Philippines gained recognition for ranking first in the U.S. News and World Report list of the “Best Countries to Invest In” for 2018.
“This recognition is a product of the good work done by both the government and the private sector over the last decade or so,” Angara said.
“Now that we are in the spotlight and have captured the attention of the business world, we must see how we can build on that momentum,” the senator stressed.
More than being a potential investment hub, Angara said this recognition should result in the availability of quality and decent jobs for Filipinos.
“Dapat ay magbunga ito ng mga dekalidad at disenteng trabaho na magpapaginhawa sa buhay ng bawat Pilipino. Bale wala ito kung hindi ito ramdam ng ordinaryong mamamayan, (The outcome of this recognition should be quality and decent jobs to improve the lives of every Filipino. It will be all for nothing if this isn’t felt by ordinary citizens),” Angara said.
Citing the latest labor force survey by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Angara said there is a decrease in the unemployment rate from 6.6 percent last year to 5.3 percent this year.
However, the quality of jobs deteriorated as the underemployment rate. The proportion of those already working but still looking for more work or longer working hours has increased from 16.3 percent to 18 percent.
“Ang ibig sabihin nito ay kahit may trabaho na sila, hindi pa rin sapat ang kinikita nila para sa kanilang pang-araw-araw na gastusin kung kaya’t naghahanap pa rin sila ng ibang pagkakakitaan (This means that even if they have jobs, their earnings are still insufficient for their everyday needs that’s why they are still looking for other means of livelihood),” he said.
“We are hopeful that the rise in investments would generate higher quality employment opportunities with bigger pay,” said Angara, who sponsored the law that raised the take-home pay of workers by lowering income tax rates.
The senator said he hopes that the Duterte government’s Build, Build, Build infrastructure program should be paired with a ‘Jobs, Jobs, Jobs’ program—one that would provide competitive salaries to address not only the unemployment and underemployment issues, but also attract overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to return and work back home.
“The push of the administration to improve and fast-track infrastructure development while ramping up social services like free education and better healthcare services is moving in the right direction. These efforts can attract more investments that should lead to better lives for Filipinos,” Angara said.
Based in the US News and World Report, the Philippines has been performing well in terms of foreign direct investment (FDI), despite declining inflows to other Southeast Asian countries.
The report also said the Philippines is expected to receive more FDI from within the region from powerhouses like China that are looking to utilize available labor in developing nations in the future.
The Philippines topped the list and is followed by Indonesia, Poland, Malaysia, and Singapore.