Senatorial aspirant and incumbent Sorsogon Governor Francis “Chiz” Escudero on Sunday urged the national government to set a higher target for job creation through its “Build, Build, Build” program.
Escudero pointed out the government’s infrastructure program has received a massive P1.18-trillion budget this year, almost a quarter of the P5.04-trillion national budget, enough to jumpstart the country’s post-pandemic recovery.
The former senator said the amount is equivalent to 5.3 percent of the Philippines’ gross domestic product (GDP) and should be used to drive economic activity.
“Even as we continue to battle COVID-19, we are marching forward with the full intent of reenergizing the economy, boosting consumption and promoting investment,” Escudero said.
“The government is the country’s biggest employer, and it can find ways to create more jobs this year through its Build, Build, Build campaign,” he pointed out.
“Perhaps they can include military and supply infrastructures in the Ayungin Shoal among the Build. Build, Build projects this year. That would be hitting two birds with one stone: giving more Filipinos jobs and asserting our sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea,” he suggested.
Based on a Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) report back in February 2021, around 4.2 million working-age Filipinos were unemployed and 7.9 million suffered pay cuts due to shorter working hours caused by slower economic activity.
Escudero also noted that poverty incidence has also gone up last year to 23.7 percent, which means 26.14 million Filipinos were living below the poverty threshold of P12,082 monthly for a family of five.
According to the PSA, this translates to almost two million more than the 22.26 million poor Filipinos in 2018, before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We cannot reverse the worsening poverty without creating jobs or livelihood opportunities for the millions who have lost their work,” said Escudero, who is seeking a Senate comeback in the upcoming May 2022 elections.
“The government’s investment in infrastructure must have a return in terms of employment so that people will once again have money for consumption, which will help the country because the Philippines is primarily a consumer economy,” he stressed.