It’s Time to Act on the Crisis

The Arroyo government claims that the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector could absorb workers who are being retrenched from export industries. How on earth could that happen when BPO companies offering services such as call centers, medical transcription, and accounting require a different set of skills? Besides Accenture has already laid of 500 workers. Also last January 27, ABS CBN interviewed workers from the Clark Economic Zone, and some of those interviewed who fear that they would lose their jobs, because the company they are working for are about to retrench workers, are from BPO companies. This is not surprising since 90 percent of contracts of BPO companies in the country are from US companies.

Even more ridiculous is the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration pinning its hope on newly-elected US Pres. Barack Obama, hoping that the US president’s economic stimulus program – which is still encountering rough sailing in the Democrat-led Senate – would enable the US to absorb Filipino contract workers. The US has already shed more than a million jobs last year. Overseas Filipinos from the US, who account for 51 percent of the total remittances to the Philippines, are being affected by the job cuts. The impact of this in remittances would most probably be felt this year.

The Arroyo government also claims that the Philippines would not be affected much by the US meltdown since the country’s exports are spread to other countries. However, the country’s other export destinations are also in crisis, namely Japan, China, Hong Kong, Netherlands, Singapore South Korea, Taiwan, Germany and Malaysia. China is already experiencing a slowing down of its economy and export earnings. Being already hit by retrenchments are the export industries.

The impact of the world economic crisis is already being felt and is making the crisis of the Philippines even worse. Proof that the Philippine economy is far from being invulnerable is that we are experiencing an LPG shortage when the rest of the world has no problem in supply. No thanks to the Arroyo government’s deregulation policy, which made oil firms virtually untouchable. Instead of the government running after the big oil firms, it is picking on small LPG dealers.

The Arroyo government’s economic program of deregulation, liberalization, and privatization has already made the Filipino people more vulnerable to the world economic crisis and yet it is not doing anything about it because it is denying the fact that the crisis would strike the country hard. More accurately, the Arroyo government has not made any effort or program to confront the crisis or at the minimum, to mitigate its impact on the Filipino people because it is trying to deceive the people into believing that all is well with the economy. It is doing so for political reasons: to keep itself in power up to or beyond 2010 or to keep its chances of controlling the outcome of the elections high, that is, if the 2010 elections would take place. (Talk about who is making the economy worse by politicking.)

The Arroyo government would not act decisively to confront the crisis. It would bide its time, issue falsehoods, and let the Filipino people suffer the brunt of the crisis in the hope that it could escape its accountability for it. At most, it would relaunch, with much fanfare, its “katas ng VAT” relief distribution scheme, which benefits a handful of people. It is therefore, up to the Filipino people to act by holding the Arroyo government accountable for its part in making the crisis worse, and demanding that the next administration institutes decisive measures to confront the crisis and mitigate its impact. The time to act is now or we suffer more hardships under a corrupt administration that is wont to lie and murder its way out of a crisis.(

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