Press Releases Archived (November 2013)


THE PHILIPPINES needs to create 14.6 million jobs in the next four years, and the way to do this is by keeping the country on a sustained path of economic growth. This will be possible through a broad reform coalition that will work to make growth inclusive and support policies that will generate more and better jobs.

This was stressed by experts from the World Bank and the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) as they dialogued with stakeholders in the labor and business sectors as well as the academe last Sept. 13.

People want to earn a living, they dont want handouts, said Axel von Trotsenburg, World Bank vice-president for East Asia and Pacific Region, as he opened the Dialogue on Creating More and Better Jobs at One Global Place in Bonifacio Global City. The forum was organized by World Bank Philippines and PIDS as part of the activities for the 11th Development Policy Research Month.
Job creation is a real concern as it has a direct link to poverty, and considering that four billion people around the world live on less than USD4.00 a day, he said.

Karl Kendrick Chua, World Bank senior country economist, said transforming the Philippine economy to yield more and better jobs would be the challenge for everyone. More and better jobs should be created for 10 million Filipinos who were either unemployed or underemployed as of 2012, said Chua as he presented highlights of a draft report titled Philippine Development Report (PDR): Creating More and Better Jobs, which provides an in-depth discussion of the countrys jobs challenge. With an estimated 1.15 million Filipinos entering the labor force every year in the next four years, a total of 14.6 million jobs would be needed, he said.

The problem is that the Philippine economy has failed to undergo a structural transformation, and its inability to produce a massive number of jobs is due to a long history of policy distortions. Chua pointed to the countrys historically weak economic growth record, which, at an average of just 4.1 percent in the last three decades, was considerably slower than the average 6.5 percent of its more dynamic East Asian peers over the same period. Moreover, the share of manufacturing to gross domestic product has stagnated at around 25 percent since the 1960s, while other countries steadily increased theirs before moving on to growth driven by high-skill services.

PIDS Vice-President Rafaelita Aldaba called for a comprehensive industry roadmap that will link all sectors, including agriculture and services. We need to improve the competitiveness of industries, she said, adding that effective government policies and complementary actions such as competitive exchange rates would also be needed. Structural transformation would require rebuilding capacity, a shift to high value-added activities, and deeper participation in regional production networks.

Needed reforms include secure property ownership; fair competition; more investments in health, education, and infrastructure; and simple business regulations to decrease the cost of doing business in the Philippines. Businesses need to embrace the principle of a level playing field and recognize freedom of association, while labor needs to recognize valid flexible contracts and reduce calls for minimum wage hike as food prices fall to facilitate job creation, Chua said.

A broad coalition would be needed to tackle these issues, the World Bank economist said. Instead of tackling policy reforms one by one, the government, business, and labor, with the support of civil society, need to work together to come up with a package of reforms in creating more and better jobs in the Philippines, Chua said.


We need to address the urgent need of narrowing the gap between the richest and the poorest Filipino households in terms of health status, said PIDS president, Dr. Gilberto M. Llanto. Despite the country's significantly growing economy, the Philippines's overall health indicators have not commensurately improved with that growth. he added. Llanto said the country is still suffering from high levels of non-inclusiveness and inequities in the aspect of health.

September of every year was declared as Development Policy Research Month (DPRM) by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 247 signed on September 2, 2002, to underscore the need for promoting, enhancing, instilling, and drawing awareness and appreciation of the importance and necessity of policy research. The yearly observance of the DPRM aims to gain public support and wider understanding of the importance of policy research as a tool for national development and of the activities in line with it to help advance the quality and standard of policy research in the Philippines. Under the presidential proclamation, PIDS was designated as the overall coordinator of all the programs and activities of the DPRM.

Since its first observance in 2003, the annual DPRM focused on areas that the PIDS considers of national importance and therefore in need of utmost attention and support. Last year's DPRM focused on Regional Economic Integration and Inclusive Growth to underscore the impact of greater regional economic integration and globalization, taking into account the impending establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015. The AEC is expected to bring the ASEAN countries together into a contiguous market and production base that will encourage inflows of foreign direct investment (FDI) into the region. The Philippines has not been successful, however, in harnessing the gains from regional economic integration, particularly in reducing poverty and creating more jobs. This has been attributed by PIDS experts to the limited economic transformation, low levels of FDI, and lack of diversification of our export products.

In continuity with last year's DPRM theme, this year's theme of Making Health More Inclusive in a Growing Economy focuses on analyzing the country's health sector and making it more inclusive. We need a more thorough look at our health sector through research. PIDS and other international agencies like the Asia Pacific Observatory on Health Systems and Policies have conducted significant research into our country's health sector particularly in health financing and services, Llanto said.

The PIDS was created on September 26, 1977 through Presidential Decree 1201 to respond to the critical and growing need for research to assist the government in planning and policy formulation. In general, PIDS research is envisioned to help government planners and policymakers in the executive and legislative branches of government. It is a nonstock, nonprofit government corporation. In the 2012 Global Go To Think Tanks Report and Policy Advice of the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program of the University of Pennsylvania, PIDS ranked 40th and 79th on the list of the world's best social policy think tanks and development think tanks, respectively. The Go To Think Tanks index is a comprehensive ranking of the world's top think tanks and has been described as the insider's guide to the global marketplace of ideas. For its latest rankings, 6,603 think tanks from 182 countries were invited or nominated to participate in the process.

For more information about PIDS, its programs, and activities, please visit our website at

To learn more about the DPRM and the schedule of seminar-forums, please visit the 11th DPRM website at


The growth of the Philippine economy is favorable to address the non-inclusivity of the economy in the aspect of health, said senior health consultant Oscar Picazo of state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS)

Economic growth makes it possible for the health budget to increase, especially the recent passage of the Sin Tax Law on cigarettes and alcohol, which can provide an estimated incremental revenue of PHP 84.3 billion in 2013, rising to PHP139 billion in 2016. However, Picazo pointed out that the absorption of these additional resources will be a major challenge.

The sin taxes have already been committed, and the question then is how could we absorb or spend this money equitably so that the poor will benefit from health services, Picazo said.

During the media briefing last September 4 to launch the 11th Development Policy Research Month (DPRM) at the PIDS in Makati City, Picazo disclosed that the government only allots 3 to 3.5 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) for the health sector, much smaller than the World Health Organizations recommendation of 5 percent of GDP for health. PIDS Vice President Rafaelita Aldaba noted that other emerging economies usually spend seven to eight percent of their GDP for education training and health.

In the program, Picazo also mentioned various challenges and opportunities for making health more inclusive in the Philippines, which emphasized the need for a higher GDP allotment for the health sector.

The Aquino administrations Universal Health Care program or Kalusugan Pangkalahatan is deliberately designed to focus on the poorest two quintiles of the population, but expansion of benefits has not reduced the out-of-pocket spending on medical care that has remained very high, Picazo said.

Dr. Irma Asuncion, Director of the National Center for Disease Prevention and Control of the Department of Health, revealed there are 1,819 hospitals in the country, which has a total bed capacity of 101,914. This is equivalent, she said, to a population-to-bed ratio of 1 bed per 960 population. Our population is growing at 1.8 million a year, but our hospitals clearly cannot accommodate this burgeoning population, Picazo noted.


Access to quality higher education is essential for young people to have a bright future. Quality and cost often go hand in hand, making opportunities more inequitable particularly for the less privileged. Working professionals also need to continuously acquire new knowledge relevant to their jobs and learn new skills to thrive in an increasingly competitive labor market. Apart from quality and cost, time is a major constraint for full-time workers as full-time schooling means a reduction in their income if they are not allowed to go on study leave with pay.

A new mode of delivering education called Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCS, which capitalizes on modern communications particularly the Internet and interactive learning systems, looks promising in expanding educational opportunities and addressing cost, quality, and time considerations.

In a recent education experts forum last October 21 at the Romulo Hall of the NEDA sa Makati Building in Makati City, educators from major public and private education institutions in the country examined the potential benefits of the Philippines from MOOCs should they be adopted and scaled up. The forum was organized by the education team of state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) headed by Senior Research Fellow Aniceto Orbeta and Senior Research Consultant Vicente Paqueo, as part of a joint project between the PIDS and the Commission on Higher Education.

A recent development in distance education, MOOCs differ from earlier forms such as correspondence courses, broadcast courses and e-learning with its creative course materials, interactive features, open access policy, and mass distribution scheme.
MOOCs are designed in such a way that learners get direct feedback on their answers and can interact with other learners taking the same online course in other parts of the world.

Many MOOCs are offered for free by nonprofit providers such as Coursera which was founded by Stanford University professors. Coursera offers diverse courses in engineering, humanities, medicine, biology, social sciences, mathematics, business, and computer science. Another nonprofit provider is eDx established by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University.
Some universities in the Philippines have started to experiment on using MOOCs as an addition to classroom instruction. The blended MOOCs approach has been helpful in enhancing the learners understanding of lessons, said Dr. Alita Roxas of Mindanao State University.

Presenting from Washington, D.C. via video conferencing, Dr. Marito Garcia, former lead economist of the World Bank, noted that MOOCs can give someone an edge in the labor market by taking courses that belong to in-demand occupations. Universities and other education providers can develop customized MOOCs on sought-after jobs. MOOCs can therefore function not only as additional learning tools and content in the classroom setting but as an avenue to gain professional aptitude.

The forum participants felt the concept is a good one but a thorough study is needed to determine its feasibility in the local context. Dr. Emmanuel de Dios of the UP School of Economics noted the still prevailing issues of IT access and connectivity in the Philippines, which clearly is a major deterrent in adopting MOOCs. Other participants noted that as the available MOOCs are designed overseas, they may not be suited to the local context. There is also a need to consider the different learning levels of students, they said.