by Jeuel Barroso
Campaigning for economic self-sufficiency and nationalism, the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman College of Engineering (CoE) along with several organizations urged the immediate initiation of national industrialization in the country in “The Change We Need”, a forum held at the CoE auditorium, Sept. 15.
Experts from different fields tackled the country’s urgent need for national industrialization, citing massive importation, unfinished land reforms and lack of available technology as roadblocks to its activation.
“We really need to plan… we need capital goods… to pave the way for the country’s economic self-sufficiency and modernization of machinery,” Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (AGHAM) Chairperson Dr. Giovanni Tapang said.
Meanwhile, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) Secretary General Renato Reyes tackled the relevance of national industrialization to the ongoing peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
“It’s basic and fundamental that we should be able to acquire the agrarian reform and national industrialization because it is the grounding means of the country’s development,” Reyes said, urging the audience to support the ongoing peace process.
According to Reyes, the peace talk on Oct. 6 to 10 will discuss agrarian reform and rural development, national industrial and economic development, and environmental protection and rehabilitation.
“President Duterte believes that the revolution cannot be resolved with war. It must be through negotiation to know the root cause of the war, which is the social exploitation and abuse of the Filipino people,” Reyes said.
‘For the Filipino people’
Addressing the current economic situation of the country that hinders industrialization, Tapang said there is a lack of basic industries and programs for industrialization as well as unavailability of machineries for continuous manufacturing in the Philippines’s industrial sector.
He also discussed the problem of massive importation by local companies, saying the country’s research and development capacities are not utilized to their potential.
“What’s the sense if we are able to produce day-to-day products but a large part of it is imported?” Tapang said.
“If companies will continue to import ready-made products, what use is there for the country’s engineers and scientists?” he added.
Meanwhile, Rafael Hidalgo, vice president for corporate development of SteelAsia Manufacturing Corp., pointed out that the top obstacle Philippine industrial companies face is that businesses prefer imported products over local manufacturing because they are more available and easier to obtain.
“How do they do it? Powerful traders and influence peddlers relax importation rules in the name of trade facilitation,” Hidalgo said.
According to him, other means of this trend include the allowance of substandard steel, red tapes, smuggling, and fly-by-night or un-registered manufacturing.
The SteelAsia vice president also stated the steel-producing process available in the country lacks the required equipment that links raw materials to finished products.
SteelAsia is one of the leading steel manufacturing companies in the Philippines, specializing in the product called rebar, which is but one of the numerous steel commodities made and available in other countries.
Consequently, in a global comparison statistics presented by Hidalgo during the forum, the Philippines ranked 50th in production among steel-manufacturing countries.
However, despite these hindrances, Hidalgo stated that SteelAsia continues to support local manufacturing industries such as construction and, hopefully in the future, shipbuilding.
As for the agricultural sector, Tapang said it needs the long call for proper reform with the modernization of its technology.
“It seems that the more basic problem [in line with modernization of farming] is that our farmers have no stewardship with the land that they farm,” Tapang said.
“They have a feudal relationship with their landlords. They are not able to exercise the full potential of their abilities as farmers and the technology they can use,” he added.
Furthermore, Tapang emphasized that the vision of national industrialization is for the country to have the technical capacity to build life industries that will provide the Filipino people with day-to-day needs.
“National Industrialization is not really just for the industry,” he said. “It’s for the Filipino people,”