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Privilege speech delivered in plenary
November 20, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I rise to avail of the privilege hour to issue an urgent call to my colleagues and the public to help create jobs by buying Filipino products and services this Christmas season.

Last week, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) released the results of their survey revealing that joblessness among adult Filipinos had risen to 29.4% in August from 26.6% in May. This translates to around 11.7 percent of the general population, compared to the official 7% unemployment rate.

Of the 29.4% jobless, almost half were terminated in the form of lay-offs, non-renewal of contracts and business closure. It is also disturbing that joblessness increased among women from 36.4% to 42.5%.

Even as the DOLE dismisses these findings, saying that the economy could not be assessed solely on the basis of unemployment data, we cannot deny the reality of such numbers. Our friends in DOLE are missing the point. The sole concern of the survey is exactly to show the real extent of unemployment or joblessness, which by any standard is a key indicator on the health of any economy.

Even International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde had raised her concern over the news that the country is supposedly showing economic growth but poverty remains rampant. If the government continues to focus on the good news of positive but empty growth indicators, certainly Filipino workers will suffer.

Whatever our interpretation, one thing is clear – we are not creating enough jobs for our people even as more jobs are being lost due to competition from abroad in the form of imported goods and services.

The question is, what can we do about it?

A look at our latest government statistics (2009) would reveal that 63.2% or 3.6 million of jobs in the country are generated by Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. This number has in fact increased by 200,000 from 2008-2009 alone compared to a decrease in workers employed by large enterprises.

Although seemingly small, MSMEs make up 99.6% of enterprises in the Philippines. They also pave the way for quality and long term jobs as employees grow with the companies. Given their large share of the employed sector, it is important that the government and the public bolster the growth of the MSME sector.

The coming Christmas season gives us and our people a good opportunity to help our MSMEs and in so doing help protect and create jobs in the country.

Kung panregalo at pang noche buena lang naman ang pag-uusapan, wala nang tatalo pa sa gawang sariling atin. This Christmas, lets buy Filipino products. Tangkilikin ang sarili nating mga produkto upang maitaguyod ang sarili nating mga industriya.

Imbes na mansanas at ponkan, bakit hindi tayo mamigay ng seedles orange galing Nueva Vizcaya, o mangga galing Zambales o Guimaras? O kaya’y piña galing Cavite?

Sa halip na damit at sapatos galing China, subukan naman natin ang gawang Marikina, Liliw, Taytay o Bulacan.

Sa halip na instant coffee galing Brazil o Columbia, ang ipamigay natin ay kapeng Barako ng Batangas, o Monk’s coffee ng Bukidnon, o mamahaling civet coffee.

Imbes na sabon at shampoo galing US, mamigay tayo ng gawang Nueva Ecija, Valenzuela o mga organic soap mula sa mga community-based social enterprise.

Kaysa bumili ng imported na Christmas decor, makukulay at magagandang parol na lang ng Las Pinas at Pampanga.

At hindi ba mas masarap na pagsalu-saluhan ang pagkaing Pilipino? Nariyan ang lechon ng Cebu, puto ng Binan at Kalasyaw, puto bumbong, Pancit Malabon, tsokolate at salabat. Walang sinabi ang mga imported na cookies, chocolates at candies.

The list can go on and on, Mr. Speaker. In fact, you may visit the ongoing exhibit at the North Wing lobby tomorrow to see the variety of locally made products that we can buy and give this Christmas.

The point is to drive demand by convincing the public that buying Pinoy is not only a patriotic but also a wise choice; that Filipino products are just as good, and oftentimes better, than imported items.

Imagine if everyone bought from MSME retailers who source their products from local manufacturing and agricultural sectors. We are helping not only the expansion of local businessmen but also Filipino workers and farmers, the latter among the poorest sectors in the country.

Eventually, what we want to develop are local industries that are inter-linked into value chains, from heavy and large industries to MSMEs, creating jobs in both urban and rural areas of the country, entereprises that will create quality Filipino products. But for this to be done, we need fundamental changes in our economic policy, veering away from an import dependent, export oriented economy to one that is relatively self-reliant and geared towards strengthening and developing the local economy.

Mr. Speaker, for the past year, I have been involved in expanding the Buy Pinoy, Build Pinoy advocacy, partnering with various organizations of MSMEs in the country to encourage the consumption of Filipino products and services towards building integrated, world-class Filipino industries. In fact, I authored a bill declaring November as Buy Pinoy, Build Pinoy month precisely to encourage Christmas shoppers to buy local at this time.

Again, let us help solve joblessness by supporting our local enterprises. Lets Buy Pinoy, Build Pinoy this Christmas.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.#

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