The poor’s choice is a Hobson’s choice

There was no intention for me to begin my post-college career as early as I did. Nevertheless, I made it a point to devote the last days of my university life to job hunting.

There was no intention for me to begin my post-college career as early as I did. Nevertheless, I made it a point to devote the last days of my university life to job hunting. It was not excitement to get into the workforce that compelled me, it was the recognition of the sorry state of employment in the country, the dread of being jobless for a long time.

Just a week after graduation, I received my first job offer. The idea was to lessen the gap between graduating and landing a job. I did not expect it to be that brief. To say the least, I breezed through the whole job hunting phase. This is not to boast, I do not possess exceptional intelligence, nor do I have influential backers. I sailed through while many others are still left without a job because of a loophole in the current system.

This was in 2014, well past halfway Aquino’s term of office. One can easily say that I am a product of the President’s efforts to ameliorate the employment landscape of the country. Why not? Mr. Aquino has made it clear in his first SONA in 2010 that first on his platform is the creation of jobs. To be fair, visit an online job portal or check the classified ads of a newspaper and you will see a multitude of job openings. Add to that, business process outsourcing companies (BPO) seem to be always hungry for employees. For someone who is looking for a job, this couldn’t be any more desirable.

But looking at the bigger picture, the outcome of P-Noy’s efforts aren’t ideal, not even close.

So why do others have to go through thick and thin while I just needed a week? A big part of it is because I am an exception to the general Filipino populace. I am educated and I am middle-class.

For many Filipinos who live below the poverty line, the question is not which job, but is there a job for me. Just how serious this is? In a report released by the Philippine Statistics Authority last March, it is estimated that the poverty incidence among Filipinos in the first semester of 2014 was at 25.8 percent. Worse, the poverty threshold for a family of five is P8, 778 or less than P300 a day. Perhaps a more interesting figure comes from the Social Weather Stations which surveyed families about their self-rated poverty. The results reveal that an estimated 11.2 million Filipinos consider themselves poor. That’s more than half of the country’s population.

But didn’t I just mention the abundance of job postings online and even in BPO’s?

The poor are deprived of many things, food to eat, a place to live in, and even skills. Take a Hacienda Luisita farmer who has a family of four as an example. If he earns a meager P160 per day and is only assured of 80 working days per year, how do you expect him to send even one of his children to school with such scanty earning? If this child becomes of legal age to work, what choices does he have? He has a chance at manual labor, but a low-paying job can’t do any difference. If he is to apply in white-collar positions, what money will he use for the requirements? And because most probably these jobs are situated in the metro, will he take the chance of applying there without the assurance of a job after? In reality, many Hacienda Luisita workers live and die as farmers, and with no opportunity of upward social mobility.

Then where is the growth the President has discussed in his SONA? Looking at the numbers, one is made to believe that our country is in an auspicious state. In research, this is what we call cherry-picking. When lying, this is called an omission. This practice is leaving out other information to drive a person to have a particular viewpoint. You have seen rises in the graph presented, but how will this par with other graphs? You have witnessed increasing shares, but is the increase enough? In the President’s SONA, context is trivialized, reality is distorted.

The current administration has made the term inclusive growth trite. But it seems that the only evidence they have are the beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilya Program. Unemployment is still high, poverty incidence not any better. If this is not exclusivity, then I don’t know what is.


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