By Hannah Torregoza
The Duterte government should urgently craft a “resilience plan” that will allow the economy “to deftly evade” the brunt of the COVID-19 impact and the shutdown of plants and back offices of Honda, Wells Fargo, and other multinationals in the country.
Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara made the call as he initiated a series of hearings that will draw a roadmap to create Philippine world-class products and services that will proudly bear the country’s brand.
“Yes, there is no vaccine yet against the virus. But in terms of protecting our economy, in increasing its defenses, I believe that government must have a contingency plan,” said Angara, who chairs the Senate finance committee.
Angara pointed out that the virus can put “some vulnerable sectors of the economy like tourism in the ICU if we do not mount measures that will cushion its impact.”
He said the government should do its part by producing and investing in an industry that would strongly promote a “Tatak Pinoy” brand.
Angara’s panel had scheduled “all hands on deck” workshops on how “to evolve a consuming economy to one that produces and invests” long before the global crisis on the coronavirus hit.
“So, in addition to the agenda of creating more jobs within the next decade, we are now faced with the challenge of protecting jobs within the next weeks or months,” he said.
Even though the government can’t fully control global events, he said providing a conducive environment for investments is one it can shape.
He said the nation’s number one project this decade should be the fast transformation of the economy, “preferably within our generation so that more well-paying jobs are created, especially in the countryside.”
“We have to map out all our underutilized assets and use this as a springboard in prioritizing sectors, places, and industries that can create wealth using Filipino talent,” he said.
Angara said there is no shortage of Filipino “exemplars” whose products have captured global acclaim and markets, saying some of these are already well-known, such as furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue, or the Puentespina family and their award-winning Malagos Chocolate from Davao.
“Then we have big brands like Jollibee, Oishi, and Bench that are known throughout the world,” he said.
Another successful Filipino brand worth noting is the ceramics company CSM Philippines of the Manrique family who, Angara said, have been exporting handmade fine bone china plates, bowls, tea cups, and pots to the world.
“Other niches carved by Filipinos are in the creative sector of the knowledge economy,” Angara said, citing Ubisoft, which developed the videogame franchise Assassin’s Creed from its Laguna studio and the Makati-based SG Interactive, which prepares audiovisual presentations of Fortune 500 companies.
Angara said he believes that “the talent is here, as well as the other ingredients, that can create great products and services that can not only compete, but win in the global market.”