MANILA, AUGUST 13, 2012 (STANDARD) By Macon Ramos-Araneta - Senator Edgardo Angara (photo) said on Sunday many social and economic problems in the country can be traced to unemployment and the failure of government to turn depressed areas into productive zones.

Angara said the country must create “employment zones” to absorb the unemployed and underemployed in poor provinces such as those in the Pacific coast of the country like Samar, Leyte, Davao Oriental, Palawan, Cagayan and Aurora.

“I”m very obsessed with the issue of lack of income because that’s the root cause of many social problems in this country —our inability to go to school, inability to take care of the sick, rampant malnutrition,” Angara said during the launching of the Angara Center for Law and Economics.

An “employment zone” would allow entrepreneurs to bypass the maze of “red tapes” that make it difficult to open a business. It would be similar to the “economic zones” that operate in various parts of the country.

Angara said the country needs to create the employment zones as soon as possible because of the fast-changing demographics and the growing number of unemployed Filipinos.

“I think that’s our concern now, not five years from now because five years from now, we will be 115 million in population, 10 years from now we will be 120 million. Then it will be harder for us to cope with these demographics,” Angara said.

Dr. John Nye, Executive Director of the Angara Center, said the problems of capital, competition, monopoly, poor infrastructure, overly rigid commercial laws, complicated taxation, constitutional restrictions, and zoning makes it hard even to convert agricultural land into commercial use.

“Almost all studies of development say that the fastest way to grow is to move people from low productive sector to high productive sector and yet, the bulk of Philippine rules, regulations and laws work against that,” said Nye, who is a professor at the Meercatus Center at George Mason University in the United States.

Nye said lack of development was the main reason why highly-skilled and highly desirable Filipino workers cannot get jobs at home.

“Why is it so easy to employ Filipinos abroad? How do you employ Filipinos in the Philippines? If it’s easier to employ them abroad than in the Philippines then there must be something preventing you from opening factories and businesses in the Philippines. We need to understand why that’s the case,” Nye said.


Here comes the rain again By Manila Standard Today | Posted on August 13, 2012 | 12:02am |

The country is still to recover from the southwest monsoon that inundated Metro Manila and the nearby provinces for 11 days early this month, but more rain and flooding loomed on Sunday as the weather bureau said an active low-pressure area had entered the Philippines.

The disturbance was 750 kilometers east of Casiguran, Aurora, as of 4 p.m. on Sunday, and it could be a cyclone that would be named “Helen,” the weather bureau said.

Weather forecaster Connie Dadivas said Helen would likely enhance the southwest monsoon again to bring rain on Tuesday or Wednesday.

She said new weather disturbance would bring scattered rain showers and thunderstorms over the Bicol region, the Visayas and Mindanao especially along the provinces of Samar, Catanduanes, Camarines, Surigao and Davao Oriental.

Dadivas said the weather in Metro Manila would be fair until Tuesday but it could experience rainy weather on Wednesday.

The rest of the country be partly cloudy to cloudy with isolated rain showers or thunderstorms until Wednesday, the weather bureau said.

Outbreak of diseases threatens flood areas

By Manila Standard Today | Posted on August 13, 2012 | 12:01am | 243 views

Disaster and relief officials on Sunday trooped to the areas devastated by the floods to prevent the outbreak of diseases as the death toll from the non-stop rain last week rose to 85, of whom 62 died of drowning.

Officials said 60 percent of the more than 2,000 people found ill in the evacuation and health centers in Metro Manila, Central Luzon and the Southern Tagalog region, were afflicted with respiratory infections.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona said most of the stick were suffering from fever, cough and colds based on the record of consultations as of Aug. 9.

The other leading causes of consultations were febrile illness, skin diseases, minor injuries and diarrhea, but Ona said no disease outbreaks had been detected in the evacuation centers so far.

He said the Health Department was regularly assessing the sanitation in the evacuation centers to ensure the effectiveness of camp management. Early decamping by the evacuees would most likely lower the health risks.

“Better camp management in the evacuation centers will ensure that disease outbreaks will be prevented,” Ona said.

Disaster officials said Sunday the death toll from the rain and flooding had risen to 85 from 77 last week.

They said the damage to infrastructure had reached P585.06 million, and to agriculture P19.56 million.

768,989 people had been transferred to evacuation centers, while the rain and flooding affected 3 million people.

Bulacan Gov. Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado on Sunday declared his province under a state of calamity because many parts of it remained flooded. And while the floods had been subsiding, the water level in Angat Dam continued to rise and on Sunday reached 214.32 meters, breaching its spilling level of 212 meters.

President Benigno Aquino III said the government’s P352-billion flood-control master plan would be able to address disasters worse than that brought by tropical storm Ondoy in 2009.

“We are preparing for disasters of the same magnitude as Ondoy or even worse than Ondoy,” Mr. Aquino said.

“If we work on this together, there is no reason why we cannot solve this problem,” he said during his visit to the Kasiglahan Elementary |School in Montalban that was converted into a temporary evacuation site on Sunday.

He appealed to the people living near Laguna Lake to relocate to safer areas to avoid being inundated by floodwaters.

Vice President Jejomar Binay said the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council and other shelter agencies distributed relief to some 8,200 families that had been affected by the monsoon rain and flooding in Metro Manila and in the nearby provinces.

Ona said teams had been deployed to all flood-affected areas. With Ferdinand Fabella, Florante S. Solmerin, Orlan Mauricio and Joyce Pangco Pañares

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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