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Focus on jobs creation not Cha-cha, Gatchalian urges

Don’t waste too much time and effort trying to amend the Constitution.


Valenzuela City Congressman Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian has this to say to the Aquino administration in reaction to the latest Social Weather Station or SWS survey, which revealed that the employment rate has gone down to affect 300,000 Filipinos.


Gatchalian said the SWS survey provides a strong argument that should prod the government to focus on jobs creation and poverty amelioration instead of putting too much focus on efforts that will pave the way for Charter change.


The veteran lawmaker remind government officials about their primary concern of finding solutions to the more serious problems of joblessness and poverty than tinkering with the Constitution’s political provisions.


“The SWS survey on rising unemployment should serve as a signal for Malacanang to abandon plans of amending the Constitution and spend the last two years of President Noynoy Aquino’s term,” Gathalian said.


“(He should focus on) creating jobs and alleviating the plight of poor Filipinos through prompt delivery of basic social services such as free hospitalization and affordable medicines,” he added.


The SWS survey conducted from June 27 to 30 reported a slight increase from a joblessness rate of 25.7 percent with 11.5 million individuals affected in March to 25.9 percent with 11.8 million unemployed in June. The latest survey recorded an increase of 300,000 jobless Filipinos.
SWS, which interviewed 1,200 Filipinos aged 18 years and above, defines joblessness based on two factors: having no job at the present and looking for a job. This definition excludes housewives, retirees, students and persons without disabilities who are not seeking employment.


It was also found out that net optimism on job availability declined from +13 in March to +3 in June, its lowest level since May 2012.


Among the age groups, joblessness among young Filipinos aged 18 to 24 reached a record-high of 63 percent, from 43 percent in March. The last time it reached that level was in June 2008. Joblessness also increased among those 25 to 34 years old, from 31 percent in March to 35 percent in June.


The former Valenzuela City mayor noted that the gut issues of unemployment, rising prices of rice and other agricultural products, rising cost of electricity and utilities and lack of social services to poor people are the main reasons for the plunge in President Aquino’s popularity ratings.


“It is bad enough that those employed are complaining of low wages and rising prices of commodities and utilities. But it’s even worse for those who are currently jobless since having no income means no money to buy the basic necessities like food, clothing, and shelter,” he said.
Gatchalian said he had earlier supported moves to amend the economic provisions of the Constitution since he believes such changes are needed to make the country more attractive to foreign investors that will provide the much-needed jobs for the growing army of unemployed.


The Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) congressman had to withdraw his support to the planned amendment of the Constitution’s economic provisions after leading members of the Liberal Party announced that they will also push for the lifting of the term limit for the President to enable him to seek another term.


Gatchalian said extending the term of the President would only cause divisiveness among the populace and derail the much needed legislations to reduce poverty. (Monica Cantilero)