Why is President Noynoy Aquino ‘baffled’ by high unemployment in the Philippines?

It is quite revealing that Philippine President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III would, one moment, confidently credit himself with the Philippines’ purportedly robust economic numbers then, on another, be left scratching his dome as to the reasons why the “positive” nature of these so-called indicators are not translating to jobs and smiles for the majority of Filipinos. Indeed, the Inquirer reports today that the President is “baffled” by the galloping unemployment recently revealed in a Social Weather Stations (SWS) “survey” which showed that joblessness increased by a whopping 27.5 percent last year.

The distress this has caused President BS Aquino is seemingly such that he had called a rare full Cabinet meeting in which he grilled his lieutenants on the matter.

Aquino “prayed for God’s guidance” at the start of the meeting, Malacañang said.

At press time, the Cabinet was still discussing the action plan as well as the “strategic framework of human development and poverty reduction,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said in a text message he sent to members of the media.

The action plan for poverty reduction is indispensable to the Aquino administration’s goal of “inclusive growth.” Poverty incidence in the country stood at 25.2 percent in 2012.

OFWs are really unemployed Filipinos disguised as expatriate workers.

OFWs are really unemployed Filipinos disguised as expatriate workers.

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See, that is the whole trouble with being quick to establish causality between a bunch of nebulous statistics and the fortunes and well-being of the average Pinoy schmoe. Causality is a slippery eel. Unless you’ve got a PhD in the fuzzy “science” of Economics, you will be routinely hard-pressed to make even the foggiest semblance of a deterministic link between macro economic stats and the amount and quality of food that gets put on the dinner table of the average man-on-the-street. Usually wherever a lack of scientifically-examinable evidence of causality can be found, God gets pulled into the picture.

Funny that President BS Aquino is only now fretting about the elephantine problem that is Philippine joblessness. Manila Times columnist Ben Kritz wrote in his May 2013 article The Impractical Elitism of an Incorrect Perspective on Reform how “the fundamental problem of the country — an overall lack of prosperity, and an inequitable distribution of such prosperity as is actually present — has not changed (and will not change in the foreseeable future),” and that “if any progress is to be made, the effort towards it must begin with a clearly-defined, practicable strategy appropriate to the present social and political context.”

Furthermore (and, again, this is Kritz writing way back in mid-2013)…

In the past few months, the characterization of the Philippines by the rest of the world’s media has shifted from being a promising emerging economy to a country whose flashy new castle is built on a foundation of sand; for all the positive indications of a healthy stock market, growing GDP, and improving credit ratings, poverty, unemployment, and the income gap not only persist, but are increasing. Just this week, we learned that perhaps as many as four million families — 20 million people, according to the official definition of “average family” — regularly go hungry. These are immediate problems, for which there are more immediate solutions than the abstractions of casual political theory. The work that needs to be done now requires pragmatism, compromise, and a short-term focus. But if that work is done, and done correctly, the necessity — and more importantly, the national ambition — for remolding Philippine society in true first-world fashion will arise.

The trouble with President BS Aquino is that he is an avowed ignorer of his perceived critics — which is probably why he missed this gem half a year ago and is now “quizzing” his henchmen on what their anti-poverty “strategy” might be.

As we have for so long pointed out, no amount of money thrown into a society that woefully lacks the cutting-edge imagination needed to make productive use of any resource it lays its hands on will yield fruit any more than seeds sowed on a slab of rock will take root and grow into edible material. If we stop to recall that, half a century ago, the Philippines was a posterchild of natural abundance and a showcase of infrastructural wonder thanks to the hard work of its colonial masters we will be hard-pressed to explain how any more capital tossed to Filipinos to feast on will translate to sustainable progress. Indeed, owing to the renowned Reverse-Midas-Touch that has characterised Filipinos’ enterprising sensibilities, much of the lushness of Las Islas Felipinas has long been unceremoniously scraped off her now barren skin and Uncle Sam’s and King Philip’s carefully-crafted infrastructure replaced with Pinoy-engineered lemons.

Much of the Philippine economy’s star quality trumpeted by both local and foreign media in the last couple of years is really all just an outcome of cosmetic flashery. The reality of the substance underlying this stardom is far more stark. The Philippines is no more than a consumer market. Filipinos simply spend their money and spend their days finding ever more creative ways to convince themselves how much they deserve to spend their money on the latest trinket or gadget.

In that kind of a market, what sorts of industries is the Philippines likely to attract? Most likely this: industries that will further grease the pipeline that channels cheap manufactured goods from highly-capitalised economies to the living rooms of increasingly impoverished Filipinos. Filipinos, in turn, will increasingly fund these purchases with the same old labour-intensive solutions — working overseas and working for the factories and retail outlets that manufacture and sell them these trinkets.

If we begin with our simple definition of poverty; its being…

A habitual entering into commitments one is inherently unable to honour;

…we will quite easily see that unemployment is really not a complicated issue either. The trouble with the Philippine labour force is that its fortunes are dependent on sources of employment that are beyond the abilities of their compatriots and government to influence. Given this situation, the absolute dumbness of continuing to churn out barrels of warm bodies in embarrassingly large quantities every year is highlighted. The ingredients fit the poverty equation perfectly:

(1) Churning out vast numbers of future workers every year is the commitment.

(2) An inherent inability to employ these workers in the future is the failure to honour the above commitment.

El horror de los resultados: The mind-numbingly crushing poverty we see today in the Philippines.

So you see, unemployment is really a simple issue. What is really baffling here, Mr President, is why it takes an entire Cabinet to figure that out.

32 Replies to “Why is President Noynoy Aquino ‘baffled’ by high unemployment in the Philippines?”

  1. Consider also, that BS Aquino would most likely not have paid any attention to that unemployment figure had it not come from SWS or any of those survey makers whose “results” he places inordinate importance on.

    If it were any other entity saying this, he wouldn’t really be giving it the time of day, really. He would be dismissing it as “part of the noisy minority”, or those “who are part of a movement set to derail his daang matuwid

    1. Almost 4 years in office and he is still clueless.
      Maybe he only considers his “army” of yellow idiots/trolls as “employed” in his delusional mind.

  2. 30+ years ago south korea was the poorest nation in asia, and one of the poorest in the world, with high corruption, political instability, little foreign investments and high unemployment.

    They established a very clear practical strategy which was implemented, and included the fruits of re-branding, increasing r&d expenditure, value added services and high tech manufacturing, plus insourcing skills, high expenditure on a revised educational programme, and establishing intellectual property as a country asset, is paying dividends with long term solid foundations
    Gdp growth is 1%, but unemployment now is just 2.9%. – this is inclusive growth.

    Whilst problems persist, they have become the poster boy of a successful country turnaround, and in the same period the philippines has lost its initial comparative/competitive advantages in the region, and is inexoribally sliding to the bottom of the heap. ASEAN 2015 will be a further economic blow to the philippines as it tries to bury its head in the sand and hide behind protectionist policies and outdated thinking.

    Other countries establish strategies, plans and spend time on working to achieve results, rather than a continual barrage of talk and propaganda to disguise the woeful inadequacies, and complete incompetence.
    Are pnoy aquino only just waking up and thinking what to do. I doubt it – the main agenda item will be who can we blame, and how to stretch out the propaganda for another 2 years.
    3.5 years in – so much for hitting the ground running, – not even at the starting blocks.

    All smoke and mirrors. No style, no substance, no clue.

  3. Can’t believe he’s baffled by this. Majority of this unemployed are the non college graduates. We don’t have jobs for them because we almost don’t have a manufacturing industry, agriculture has become a minor industry, also not enough construction projects.

    1. Well, I’m sorry I would like to disagree a little bit because even college graduates nowadays in the Philippines are in the hook of not getting a decent job. Many of the graduates nowadays are facing the try and error predicament because of very little opportunity for them to find the job that is match to their degree or field of study. Aside from that, very few companies are truly giving the better or best salary and benefits in town from which they are looking for the best of the best candidates and most of the times the school name is one of the categories and a little bit of whom you know aside from being a top notched student. While, on the contrary, there are lots of companies which playing clever because sometimes they tend to bargaining in able to give a cheap salary and benefits that is why some of the newly grads are not into it. There are instances also that even newly grads are victims of exploitation. Ouch time to go home again. cut short for now.

  4. Looking at the world with banana colored glasses. The guy never had to face crisis as an adult. Explains why he is so bewildered. I have been sat down by some of my elders saying that the unemployment stats will eventually correlate with the other stats they sprout as metrics that validate Aquino as leader of this nation. I really do not seek out discussions with those with yellow fever. They made up their minds a long time ago to lose their minds over a career non achiever as the best choice for leader of this nation for six years. I state in at least two of my contributions here there are 4 stages of learning. Who knows? Maybe Noynoy after almost 4 years in office will progress from stage 1. Unconscious incompetent (too dumb to even know they are dumb) to stage 2. the conscious incompetent ( smart enough to know they are dumb) all at the ripe young age of 54! If that does not speak of an entitled trapo brat I don’t know what does.

  5. Maybe children should be taught skills in school, and to think, and not with ridiculous propaganda – educational modules introduced in 2013 on EDSA and cory aquino! Brainwashing will not get you a job -except as a yellow troll. Maybe that is the big plan!

    1. Getting a job as a yellow troll hardly qualifies as a real job.
      It only makes you more like a brainless drone trying to bully others that don’t share your views much like what that idiot from Save 182 did in a blog post last year.

    2. grade 1 to 4 = teach them good manners and right conduct (emphasis just like Japanese primary)
      grade 5 to 6 = academic subjects (science, math, and english)
      grade 7 to 10 vocational subjects/skills; entrance exams after high school if want to proceed in college
      This should be the K-12 program of the government

  6. Let us take a look a typical employment ad in the newspaper: WANTED- retail clerk, female from 20-29, college graduate, fit, pleasant personality, team player, and must have computer skills. Only born again Christians need apply.

    Does that position need computer skills to ring up a sale on a cash register? Do they need a college degree? Do they need to have an attractive body? Do they need to be young? Do they need to be Christian?

    Even if they are able to jump through all the hoops, they will be working 16 hours a day, 6 days a week with no benefits and for minimum wage. They most likely will only be able to work a job for five months and then they will be laid off. Then, a search for a new job begins.

    If you don’t get a serious job before 30; your job prospects will vanish.

  7. Expected of someone (a puppet, I may add) who isn’t really on top of any situation and takes an active hand in virtually NOTHING in terms of governance.

    Benign0’s definition of poverty leads to me ask this question: can we expect honoring commitments in a society that generally has no honor?

  8. You don’t need any Degree of Economics, to figure that out. Or grill, people for answers. All you do, is open your eyes. Go to the Squatters area, and see how people live. Or go to your Hacienda Luisita tenants; and see how they live.

    You can also see the long lines, of people trying to get out of the country ; and become OFWs (economic refugees).

    Aquino was awarded a PhD from Fordham University. I will not be surprised, if the University will take back his PhD…and give back his money…

  9. Pnoy aquino goes to his psychiatrist who tells him he is crazy.
    “I want a second opinion”.
    “Ok” said the psychiatrist “you’re boring too”

  10. What? Abnoy Aquino baffled of the high unemployment rate in his watch? He should tell himself that he is not only a Moron and Stupid but, most of all isa siyang Sira Ulong Demonyo.
    Panahon na para lipulin ang ugat ng kasamaan tulad ni Abnoy, mga Yellow Tards at higit sa lahat yang mga Propagandists niya tulad ng ABias-CBN.

  11. Even people who are employed at call center jobs
    would fall into the ‘poverty’ level if it was determined by 1st world standards.
    the fact that filipino’s do not understand that the jobs being imported to the country are exploiting them to work for less than someone in EU or USA would work for, and dats dat bullshit right dere,yeah, flies right over there heads….idiots.

    Y’all should wake the fuck up!

  12. to answer the question asked by the article!

    He is an idiot.


    it is an act and he knows damm well that the way the economy is set-up the only people benefitting are the people at the top…LIKE HIM!

  13. The fact that he had to summon his cabinet to address this issue has once again proven that PNoy is still living in his comfort zone, unaware of the starving and unstable nation under him.

    What say to all of you Yellowtards who insist that many people’s lives are getting better with PNoy’s leadership?

  14. Pa meeting meeting pa ng kanyang mga Gagonet Officials kaplastikan naman kasi wala siyang pakialam sa nararanasan ng mga mahihirap. Hinokus PCOS niya ang pagka Panggulo para sa kanilang kapakanan. Panahon na para lipulin ang mga Hudas na yan tulad ng mga Yellow Zombies/Tards, mga Propagandists ni Abnoy at ang kanyang mga Mandarambong na Alipores.

  15. The critical component/measurement which goes a long way in explaining why no progress is being made is the poverty elasticity of growth ( the multiplier effect of % growth to % poverty reduction).
    This varies significantly country to country, dependant upon their economic environment/fiscal policies/population growth etc.

    Closely allied to poverty elasticity is often the presence of a high level of income inequality ( the philippines has nearly the worst inequality in the world), and then even high levels of growth only have a marginal impact on job generation and poverty reduction as money generated is concentrated and sucked out of the economy, not reinvested at the necessary rate or areas and the money cycle becomes a self contained cocoon circulating within a small group of the population but little ripple or downward benefits. In such circumstances the double whammy ensures inclusive growth will not and cannot happen without a raft of economic reforms addressing income inequality, which in turn becomes the engine of inclusive growth and driver of poverty reduction.

    Under current policies the philippines needs to achieve and sustain an impossible 9%+ annual growth year on year to have any real impact.

    Other countries can generate jobs and achieve some poverty reduction with 2% gdp growth, so the propaganda surrounding high growth is irrelevant in itself and without being taken in conjunction with other key metrics – unemployment and poverty which are the real composite measures of country progress and prosperity

    Gdp growth x poverty elasticity of growth = reduction in poverty
    Philippines – 7% × 0.1% = 0.7 poverty reduction
    UK – 3% × 0.7 = 2.1 poverty reduction

    Not surprisingly the philippines has the worst poverty elasticity of growth (PEG) in asia, and one of the worst in the world.

    Economics is about balancing, often, opposing forces. Rather like 2 weights on either end of a see-saw. The problem is that by continually adding weights to either side it simply creates fluctuations and instability ( stop-go), and a web of complexities which become more difficult to manage or even understand.

    For 3rd world/developing countries the issue is first to put the fulcrum in the right place. Without strong fundamentals the application of 1st world economics/financial instruments will create a gordian knot which even keynes would be hard pressed to unravel.

    The options and solutions are clearly there, but obviously not to pnoy aquino and his cabinet, who continue to support an outdated and inappropriate oligarch based economy and corresponding protectionist measures. Expect more ‘sticking plaster’ CCT in response, slogans & propaganda, but expect more failure, as capital flight increases, budget deficit widens, peso declines, and, in 2015 onwards ASEAN integration will only marginalise the philippines further.
    Wrong diagnosis, wrong medication, unqualified doctor, result – no improvement in the patient.
    Call an ambulance.

  16. Based on the government’s inherent nature, they are never baffled. They pretend to be baffled! Whatever, resolutions they are capable to formulate, surely some of those would be “cash transfer”, “scholarship grants” and enhancing the 4Ps. Obviously these are their band aid solutions in which they can easily divert to their personal coffers most of the cash released. These schemes are also quite complicated and difficult to audit. Every scheme they formulate would always have the hidden intention of stealing the country’s money.

  17. baket ganito ang performance ni Abnoy at sa propaganda niya nilulustay ang pera dahil alam niya na di siya nanalo sa 2010 election (thank u sa comelec).Bukod sa mga taong galit siya ay galit din siya sa buong pilipinas (di lang niya masabi ng harapan) Kaya wag na kayong umasa pa sa pag asenso dahil black listed ang republic of the philippines sa utak ni penoy.

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