Byline: Beth Day Romulo
IN her speech before the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ABAC) at the Shangri-La Mactan in Cebu last week President Arroyo described her vision of the Philippines as a pre-eminent business processing outsourcing (BPO) hub in the world. Already 200,000 Filipinos are employed in over 100 companies engaged in outsourcing and call centers, compared to 2,000 employed in only 4 companies in 2003. The president views a concerted thrust to gain world status in outsourcing as a promising way to reduce unemployment and earn foreign exchange. She pointed out the Philippines "compelling advantages'' as a competitor for this business: Its location, English-speaking labor force, level of education and culture of service. To accelerate the Philippines competitiveness she ordered Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila and Cesar Bautista, who chairs the private/public task force, to create a Master Plan on ways to become more internationally competitive. She also announced a R500-million scholarship fund for training Filipinos who wish to work with BPO companies. Philippine Chairman of ABAC and presidential adviser on International Competitiveness, Ambassador Roberto Romulo, welcomed the President's strong advocacy for Philippine BPO competitiveness. "This is a landmark event because the President acknowledges in this globalizing world we have to try to achieve to be better than we are today.'' Since the President's speech in Cebu, the Ayala Corporation has announced plans to join the trend and open more call centers in the Philippines.
The President also called for regional cooperation on energy security and anti-terrorism measures and pushed for a global convention on counter-terrorism to "advance teamwork in the fight against evil. …