Skills and Development Challenges


Wigberto E. Tañada, FTA Lead Convenor

Isang magandang umaga sa ating lahat.

Ako ay nagpapasalamat sa pagdalo ng iba’t ibang sektor tulad ng industriya, paggawa at iba pa. Tiyak kong mainit ang magiging talakayan natin sa umagang ito. Baka kasing init ng ating kumukulong pulitika.
Let me start by stating the obvious – without the OFWs, over 5 million of them, and without the Filipino immigrants, over 3 million of them, remitting $8-12 billion annually to their families and relatives at home, this government would have collapsed a long time ago. Di na kailangan ang coup o conspiracy para bumagsak ang pamahalaan. Kung wala ang mga OFWs na bumubuhay sa di kukulanging 20 milyong Pilipino, baka yung mga malls ng mga Sy at mga Gokongwei ay bumagsak na rin.

Alam din po natin ang dahilan sa pagtulak sa ibang bayan ng mga OFWs. Kulang ang disenteng trabaho. At kung disente man, di sapat ang kita para magdugtong ang katawan at kaluluwa. Kulang at nagbabagsakan ang industriyang maaaring lumikha ng disenteng trabaho.

In the l960s, we were second to Japan in Asia in terms of industrial development. Today, we are one of the laggards in the Asia-Pacific region, in the company of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. This is why the stop-gap policy of allowing Filipino workers to go overseas, started 35 years ago by the Marcos government, has become permanent.

The failure of our industry to develop and the general failure of our economy to take off is at the roots of this gigantic exodus of Filipino workers. This failure is an indictment of the neo-liberal economic policies that have been in place in this country. Worshipping in the altar of free trade and working closely with the IMF-World Bank tandem, our economic technocrats – from the Marcos period up to the present dispensation – have managed to open up the economy in a wholesale and one-sided manner. We are the most open in Asia today, next only to Singapore and Hong Kong. And yet, we are also one of the worst performers. One after the other, our industries have collapsed – textile, rubber, tile, ceramics, shoes and so on. Our agriculture has also crumbled. From a net agricultural exporting country in the l980s, we are now a net agricultural importing country, with our trade deficit in agriculture amounting to roughly $1 billion a year. With our industry and agriculture in tatters, sino ang hindi mangingibang bayan?

This is why, we, at the Fair Trade Alliance, have been arguing with our economic technocrats. Abandon your narrow neo-liberal paradigm. Stop equating growth with sheer economic liberalization. Look at the East Asian experience, from the miracle experience of post-war Japan to the explosive growth of China. Develop simultaneously the export and domestic industry, the export and domestic agriculture. Calibrate protection and calibrate liberalization. Focus on capacity building. Reject one-sided liberalization. Stop smuggling. Observe economic nationalism.

Unfortunately, marami sa mga teknokrat ay bulag. Nakatutok sila sa kanilang mga teorya, habang di nila makita ang mas malaking realidad na bumabagsak ang sarili nating industriya at agrikultura sa ilalim ng makitid na programa ng liberalisasyon.

And now, our existing industries, few and shrinking as they are in number, are in further danger of collapse.

This time, the old solution to the economic ills of this country, the diaspora of workers, has become itself the problem for our remaining industries. If we may borrow from the language of Congressman Roseller Barinaga, we are facing a silent crisis in the unchecked and unregulated outflow of mission-critical skills and talents.

Last year, the nation was shocked to discover that our hospitals are closing down and our health services are collapsing because many of our doctors, nurses, medical technicians, physical therapists and even orderlies have gone abroad.

Today, we are facing the dire prospects of being a country without an aviation industry of its own. Nauubos ang ating mga piloto, maintenance engineers at air controllers. Baka bumagsak din ang telecommunications industry sapagkat nauubos ang mga radio frequency engineers. Gayundin ang domestic shipping industry, steel industry, petrochemical industry at iba pa. Nawawala rin ang ating mga certified accountants at magagaling na IT engineers at technicians, pati na mga programmers. And, of course, we are losing teachers by the hundreds. Paano na ang isang lipunang walang guro?

Kung susundin natin ang mga neo-liberal na teknorat, isyu lamang ito ng supply and demand. Dagdagan ang training at edukasyon ng mga piloto, engineers at iba pang mission-critical personnel and professionals. Mag-invest ang industriya sa paglikha ng mga bagong piloto, engineers at iba pang professionals.

Napakadaling sabihin. Subalit sa totoo lamang, pinagtatawanan tayo ng Singapore at iba pang bansa. Wala tayong istratehiya para alagaan ang sarili nating industriya. Nakakalimutan natin na dahil sa pagbubukas ng ating ekonomiya at labor market, ang hirap magtagpo ng tinatawag na supply at demand. Our labor market has become an extension of the global labor market.
This is why our local talents and skills are being poached openly by other countries. What is really happening is that we educate and train our people and yet we are unable to use these skills and talents for our own development. We are honing skills and developing talents for other countries. Ang Pilipinas ay isang malaking mina ng talento, kahusayan at natatanging katangian, na walang pakundangang minimina ng ibang bayan para sa sarili nilang pangangailangan. Under our twin policies of economic liberalization and permanent stop-gap labor migration, poachers of other countries simply come here to pick Filipino talents and skills and harness them for their own development. In the process, they manage to avoid investing time and money in producing their own mission-critical personnel and professionals. They are able to save their critical industries and their own economy.

Pero paano naman tayo?

Paano tayo kung hindi makikialam ang ating pamahalaan kung patuloy nawawala ang ating mga mission-critical personnel at professionals? Paano tayo kung hahayaan na lang nating maglipana ang mga ahente ng Singapore at iba pang bansa para ligawan ang ating mga mission-critical personnel at professionals? Paano tayo kung hindi natin gagawin ang ginagawa ng ibang bansa, halimbawa, sa Amerika, sa ilalim ng kanilang Homeland Security Act, na hindi maaaring umalis ang mga mission-critical personnel sa mga critical at strategic industries? Sa ibang bayan, may tuwirang ban para sa pag-alis ng ilang mga okupasyon tulad ng mga nurses, doctors at teachers. Sa Middle East, hindi maaaring umalis ang isang eksperto nang walang kapalit.

Are we that helpless?

Di ba we are trying, in the words of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, to build a Strong Republic? Kaya ang Forum natin ngayon ay tiyak na magiging mainit. Marami pa tayong masasabi, pero nais ko rin munang makinig sa sasabihin ng industriya at iba pang eksperto.

But let me close by stating that we, at the Fair Trade Alliance, respect the right of our workers, especially the more talented among them, in seeking greener pastures here or overseas. This includes the right to mobility and the right to choose job or occupation of his or her liking. At the same time, however, let me state that it is also the sovereign right of every country to assert its national interest by protecting its own critical industries.

What is probably needed here is how to come up with the right balance – in safeguarding the interests of critical domestic industries and insuring their survival and sustainability, on one hand, and in respecting the desires of our talented workers to go overseas and earn more, on the other.

Of course, the long-term and win-win solution to all of this is to have an economy that truly works, an economy with a strong agro-industrial base able to provide decent jobs for all.

Sa maikling salita, sana ay dumating ang panahon na tayo ang pinupuntahan ng mga dayuhang talino at galling, at hindi yaong tayo ang nilalayasan. Hindi po natin maitatayo ang ganitong ekonomiya kung ang mga natitirang industriya, na iilan na lamang, ay pababayaan pa nating mamatay.

Maraming salamat.

———————————
Speech delivered on “Policy Forum-Dialogue on Exodus of Mission-Critical Personnel and Professionals”, organized by the Fair Trade Alliance (FTA) and the UP – School of Labor and Industrial Relations (UP – SOLAIR), held on March 4, 2006 at UP SOLAIR Auditorium, Quezon City.

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  1. Спасибо за интересный материал! Автору респект!




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