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    Vice President Leni Robredo’s Message during the IT-BPO Meeting in Cebu

    Vice President Leni Robredo’s Message during the IT-BPO Meeting in Cebu
    Harold’s Hotel, Cebu City

    VP Leni: Good morning, everyone! I– I am very happy to be back in Cebu. I was here last month for– for a series of campaign related activities but I had lunch with Mayor Tommy and Mayor Margot also. And you know everytime I– we talk, Mayor Tommy has been– has always been very passionate about helping the tech industries and the tech employees here in Cebu. So we were discussing the plight of the BPO employees not– not just with regards to the election but with many other things like transportation. transportation from work, housing arrangements, the fact that there is opportunity but you need the help of the government in order to maximize the opportunity that is there and we– we discussed about it and we had been, after I went back to Manila, we had been messaging– we had been messaging each other and we decided I will write Comelec and ask Comelec to– to open voting centers for– for BPO, BPO employees in Cebu.

    We identified three, one is the Cebu Asia– Cebu Business Park- the Cebu Asiatown IT Park, Cebu Business Park in Barangay Kasambagan. But as– as Mayor Tommy said earlier, the– the main purpose of– of the petition that our filing with Comelec is to make sure that our BPO employees are not disenfranchised because of the- because they might not be able to vote because of the nature of their work.

    But we realized that it– it is not– that the problem is not only in Cebu– Cebu BPO employees, but all BPO employees all over the Philippines. So in Cebu I think there’s almost 200 thousand, tama ba? Almost 200- 200 thousand BPO employees but all over the Philippines is about 1.2 million- is about 1.2 million employees.

    So- so that that much, that that’s a lot compared– that that's a lot considering that because of the work arrangements would be very difficult for them to you know wake up in the middle of the day to– not just to be able to vote but– but again we– we’re filing the petition, the petition is done already.

    We– we’re asking Comelec to number one to open– open voting centers but the long term one is to amend an Executive Order, where certain segment in society are allowed to do absentee voting. You know OFWs abroad are allowed to do absentee voting, uniformed personnel, other government officials who do election duty. We do– we do understand that even– even BPO employees, not just even– not just BPO employees, but all Filipinos who do the same kind of work that BPO people do will benefit from– will benefit from with the amendment of– of the Executive Order which will include them in the– in the categorization that they should also be entitled to absentee voting privileges.

    But that’s one point. But the– the second point is, when was this, I think last Friday. Last Friday I rolled out a jobs plan. I rolled out a jobs plan and we– we are focusing on four– four areas. Number one is tech, number two is manufacturing, number three is maritime, number four is climate– climate industries. With that i was looking at– I was looking at all the opportunities and where we are now, and one of the most– one of the more striking– striking facts that I– I saw, was that, for example Cebu was number 12 in 2020 as far as smart cities is– is concerned. This is at Tholons I– I am– I don't know if you're aware of it, this is at Tholons ranking, and in 2021 Cebu is number 52 so it’s– it’s number 12 to number 52 and– and you know this– this ranking, this ranking is supposed to be for accelerated digital transformation of industries and services.

    And this should be a cause for concern because we all know that during the– during the pandemic especially, parang napabilis 'di ba, napabilis our need for digitization of all industries. And iniisip ko baka biglang nag-crash to number 52 because we were not able to, you know, we're not able to– masabayan natin the, the speed by which, the trajectory by which digitalization and digitization is needed. So 'yung iniisip namin this will be a listening conversation. Ano ba 'yung kailangan, ano 'yung kailangan with the– with the advent also of AI, with the advent of, you know 'yung accelerated automation and for disruptive and transformative digital technologies. Baka maiwan 'yung skill sets natin. So this is actually a– an exercise where we want to hear from you na kung kayo 'yung tatanungin, ano ba 'yung wishlist niyo from government? For– for the tech industry to be able to, you know, to be able to ride on the accelerated automation of everything. Kasi ang worry natin siyempre pag, pag 'yung AI na nandyan, baka– baka you know maiwan 'yung skill sets natin and, and many people will be out of work because we're not able to upscale. We're not able to re-train in the manner that we need to retrain our people.

    So, so 'yung conversation, what I want to hear from you is ano ba 'yung mga kailangan, what do you think government should do so that we would be able to maximize all the opportunities, because I really would like to believe that tech is an opportunity for the country. Pero papaano tayo makakasabay? Na, you know I've been hearing a lot of stories, some of them are anecdotal, some are really backed by evidence, but I've been hearing a lot of stories when during the pandemic a lot of tech companies left the Philippines for– to relocate to other countries because we're not able to give them the support that they needed.

    So siguro 'yun 'yung conversation today. We want to hear from you, it will help us develop more the policies, that the platform that we are preparing for our tech industries. At the same time, also inform you that I'm fully supportive of, of the many things that– of the passion that Mayor Tommy has been, has been exercising as far as the tech– the BPO, the IT-BPO industry in Cebu is concerned. Marami siyang mga ideas, kinukuwento niya sa 'kin the last time I was here.

    Halimbawa 'yung danger of, ano 'to, of getting transportation in the wee hours of the morning, nauubos dun 'yung mga, nauubos 'yung kita because they have to take, you know, backseat cab rides o rent, most of them are not from Cebu 'di ba, are not from Cebu City. So they would need to, they would need a decent enough but– a decent enough housing that is not expensive. So 'yun 'yung mga kinukuwento ni Mayor Tommy and sabi ko sa kanya mas babad siya with the industry and we, we have discussed this many times over.

    So siguro 'yun, if we can get the conversation going and we really want to listen to– to your inputs on this.

    [END 09:07]

    Posted in Transcripts on Dec 13, 2021