PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s “Ramdam ang Kaunlaran” slogan to trumpet the apparent economic gains from last year’s 7.3 GDP growth rate is turning out to be nothing but empty rhetoric amid a food supply crisis and the almost weekly oil price increases that have jacked up the cost of basic commodities beyond reach of ordinary Filipinos.

This was the sentiment of farmers, fishermen, and members of various sectoral groups at yesterday’s Development Roundtable Series (DRTS) forum organized by the Focus on the Global South at the School of Labor and Industrial Relations (SOLAIR) in U.P. Diliman.

As one fisherman remarked, “Ang tanong ay hindi kung ramdam ba natin ang asenso pero kung meron nga bang asenso (The question is not whether we feel the progress but if there is really progress).”

To measure the progress that the Arroyo government has been crowing about, one has to look at the Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) crafted by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) during Arroyo’s first 100 days in 2004. As a road map to progress, the MTPDP, summarized as the 10-Point Agenda or in the battle cry “BEAT THE ODDS,”* consists of poverty reduction strategies aimed at ensuring a better quality of life for Filipinos by 2010.

Foremost in the MTPDP’s anti-poverty targets are the creation of 10 million jobs in six years (2004-2010) or 1.6 million jobs a year and the upgrading of marginal jobs via various poverty alleviation measures, including the deployment of one million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) every year.

Read more about the MTPDP here.

On the fifth year of the MTPDP, the University of the Philippines Center for Labor Justice (CLJ) and the Fair Trade Alliance (FTA) are saying that the Arroyo government, based on official data, is actually failing in achieving its twin targets of 10 million new jobs, excluding OFW deployment, and the upgrading of marginal jobholders.

The assessment is contained in a draft collective paper that looks at how the government has been faring in meeting its job creation and upgrading targets. The report is part of the development papers that the DRTS, as coordinated by Focus on the Global South, is developing to foster policy debates on key trade and development issues in the country.

Citing the report’s findings, Dr. Rene Ofreneo, FTA executive director, said that job creation performance in the country has been dismal and even declining.

YEAR
ACTUAL JOB INCREMENT
MTPDP TARGET
2004-2005
700,000
1.6 million
2005-2006
648,000
1.6 million
2006-2007
599,000
1.6 million

Source: National Statistics Office

Instead of 1.6 million jobs, only 700,000 new jobs were added in 2005. This counted for only 43.7 percent of the 1.6-million target. In 2006, job creation declined to 648,000 (40.5 percent), and even further down to 599,000 (37.4 percent) in 2007.

While it is true that unemployment rate went down to single digit in 2006, at 7.9 percent from 11.8 percent in 2004, Ofreneo explained that this is mainly because the National Statistics Office (NSO) switched to the International Labor Organization (ILO) definition of an unemployed starting in 2005.

The report said that an unemployed is “someone of working age with no job, and is looking for one, and should he or she be available at the time of survey, he or she is ready to take on the job.” By making the process of asking whether one is unemployed, the NSO succeeded in eliciting a “no answer” from many job seekers, which meant that an unemployed who is not prepared to work at the time of the survey was classified as “not in the labor force.”

The report also established that the labor force even shrank by 103,000 between 2005 and 2006 despite the steady growth of the population.

As for job upgrading, there are four million Filipinos working without pay as of 2007. They constitute 12 percent of the employed. The number of Filipinos working at less than 40 hours a week is 12.3 million (36.5 percent).

The underemployed, on the other hand, are estimated to be 6.7 million (37.4 percent) and the self-employed, 10.6 million (31.5 percent).

EMPLOYMENT STATISTICS
as of 2007
STATUS
NUMBER
AS % OF THE EMPLOYED
Unpaid workers
4 million
12%
Working at less than 40 hr/week
12.3 million
36.5%
Underemployed
6.7 million
37.4%
Self-employed
10.6 million
31.5%

Source: Bureau of Labor and Employment, Department of Labor and Employment

According to DOLE, workers in the informal sector have also been on the rise. At 14.7 million in 2006, they make up 45 percent of the total number of employed.

INFORMAL SECTOR STATISTICS
YEAR
NUMBER
AS % OF THE EMPLOYED
2004
13.5 million
42.8%
2005
14.5 million
44.8%
2006
14.7 million
44.6%

Source: Bureau of Labor and Employment, Department of Labor and Employment

Poverty incidence also went up from 30 percent in 2003 to 32.9 percent in 2006, with 677,000 families joining the ranks of the poor.

POVERTY INCIDENCE STATISTICS
YEAR
RATE
2000
28.4%
2003
30.0%
2006
32.9%

Source: National Statistics Office

Moreover, the paper noted that the only area where the MTPDP is on track is the deployment of one million OFWs each year. The official estimate of OFWs is over eight million, which comprises roughly 10 percent of the total population.

The availability of jobs — decent jobs — is central in any poverty reduction program, Ofreneo said, emphasizing the need to pursue new development strategies with government’s failure to meet its set job targets.

Given the declining level of job creation, Focus research associate Aya Fabros said the economic gains being trumpeted by Arroyo earlier this year appear to be a fluke. “The boost of 2007 turned out to be short-lived, a spurt that could not be sustained.”

Even National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) Secretary General Romulo Virola acknowledged that after the record-level growth of 7.3 percent in 2007, the “soaring” economy “slackened” with the gross domestic product growth down to 5.2 percent in the first quarter of 2008.

In two weeks, Arroyo will be delivering her eighth State of the Nation Address. Whatever “spin” pertaining to a solid economy, Fabros added, is now “dramatically discredited by the sharp changes in key indicators that Arroyo supposedly tamed under her watch.”

See related stories:

* An acronym for Balanced budget, Education for all, Automated elections, Transportation and digital infrastructure. Terminate hostilities with the MILF and NPA, Heal the wounds of EDSAs I, II and III, Electricity and water for all. Opportunities for livelihood and ten million jobs, Decongestion of Metro Manila, Develop Subic and Clark.

6 Responses to Still a jobless-growth economy

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nosi balasi

July 16th, 2008 at 3:38 pm

simple…massive corruption = jobless-growth economy = increasing poverty

massive corruption in all forms…and it began from the following;
1) Utang na loob that make her the President in 2001…to the Generals (AFP & PNP), Civil Society Groups, etc…how?…appointed to Government positions and others plus pocket money (where they get those money? millions of Pesos that was distributed to the Generals-how many of them?)
2) Chavit Singson become the Jueteng Czar…up to now jueteng is still dominant number game in our country, and one of the biggest contributor to poverty. (for me, i believed, the downfall of Estrada was planned and not spontaneous as reported by the media, for they were used and corrupted by those people involve in the Jueteng operations)…if I am wrong…why Jueteng is still operating in our country???
3) Her Legitimacy as Elected President…from COMELEC, to Provincial Gov & Mayors, Congress…Generals to Privates (AFP & PNP)…remember GARCI, Joc-Joc Bolante, Luz the undersec of Education, and many more…how much money was on the road??? and where they get it???

All of these, if we sum them up, it will reach to billions of pesos di pa kasama yung katulad ng ZTE deal na nakalusot na…and if they all been used honestly…and to appropriate purposes…if our economy will not be better nowadays…then it will not be worst as this.

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jcc

July 16th, 2008 at 8:10 pm

nosi,

i can understand your anti-gma’s rant. people like us who were not given the opportunity to lead the country have all the right to point out the mistakes of our leaders.

but what i cannot tolerate are people who were given the same opportunity as gma, i.e, erap, framos, cory, marcos clan, to point out the defects in the gma leadership.

they cannot afford to be sanctimonious freak because like gma, they bleed our coffers dry too. :)

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ge-em-ei

July 17th, 2008 at 3:10 am

nosi, in a sense you see it right but its not only gma committed these mistakes, as per jcc, there are other personalities in gma’s bandwagon of corruption. let us not give all the credit to gma. :)

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ge-em-ei

July 17th, 2008 at 3:27 am

welcome back ge-em-ei. yeah right, gma will not be responsible to all the debts our country has 8)

wow, people… these corruptions are not mistakes…mistakes is a different matter…it means inaccuracy or oversight and not part of the plan. Corruption is dishonesty, is a crime against the law…mistakes are acceptable because even you followed all the steps and processes required…and the results are failing due to oversight or miscalculation, and this is a mistake…those things i mentioned above are not mistakes.

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jcc

July 17th, 2008 at 5:03 am

ge-em-ei, sounds like gma :)

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jcc

July 17th, 2008 at 5:07 am

btw, ge-em-ei, “mistakes” in my post is used in a generic sense. not necessarily miscalculation,, it includes deliberate plan to plunder the country. it was followed by the statement, “bleed the coffers dry too”. :)

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