Philippines: Labor groups seek senatoriables’ plans on unemployment

Apr. 26, 2007

MANILA — The labor groups, Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) and
Confederation of Independent Unions (CIU) challenge the senatorial
candidates to reveal plans to curb the unemployment problem as the
groups launch the series of “job interviews” of politicians aspiring
for the 12 seats in the Senate.

“The candidates’ campaign ads and materials have grossly missed the
economy’s inability to provide full, productive and decent work to
Filipinos. The people need to know the candidates’ economic agenda and
their capacity to draw up feasible, time-bound and credible policies
for job creation, more than the buzz words and empty promises during
the campaign,” said Danny Edralin, President of the Alliance of
Progressive Labor (APL).

The 120,000-strong labor groups from the private and public sectors
will hold one-on-one meetings in the coming days with selected
senatorial candidates of the Team Unity, Genuine Opposition and
independent tickets who are faring well in the polls surveys. The
results of the evaluation will be presented in the Labor Forum before
May 1 where the candidates will be invited to attend.

Among the candidates being interviewed are re-electionist Senators
Kiko Pangilinan and Ralph Recto, former Cabinet Secretary Mike
Defensor, former Senator Loren Legarda and former Rep. Chiz Escudero.
According to Edralin, the candidates were selected because they were
perceived to be relatively popular among the masses and yet, their
qualifications to push for measures to arrest unemployment remain

“It will be interesting to see the candidates’ development paradigm if
ever they have one. Clearly, what the country needs is an alternative
to the Administration’s neo-liberal straightjacket of
“one-size-fits-all” formula for economic development that left
millions of workers down the drain of immense poverty and
hopelessness,” said Edralin.

The labor groups will evaluate the candidates’ plans for rural
development since the poorest of the poor are living in the provinces,
industrialization and investment policies that would lead to full
employment, fiscal and monetary policies that would promote equal
growth on the workers’ income, and public sector reform agenda in the
light of the rationalization plan to lay off 30 percent of the public
sector workers.

“The government’s Labor Force Survey in January 2007 estimated that
about 10 million Filipinos are unemployed or underemployed compared to
9.6 million only in January 2006. With at least 1.5 million new
workers expected to enter the labor markets every year, the government
faces the formidable challenge of creating the much number of
productive and better paying jobs to address the lingering jobs
crisis,” said Edralin.

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