News / Asia

Philippine President Answers Questions from Public on YouTube

Simone Orendain

Philippine President Benigno Aquino talked jobs, national defense and curbing corruption during a 45-minute online program Friday where he answered questions submitted by the public. He was the first Asian leader to appear on YouTube’s World View.

Aquino on Youtube

With little preamble, World View's host got to the first of a series of questions decided upon by YouTube viewers.  One person asked what the president is doing to keep workers at home.  Currently 3,000 Filipinos leave daily to work abroad.

President Benigno Aquino said his administration is focused on attracting foreign and local investment and revamping school curricula to match the tens of thousands of local jobs that are not being filled.

“The system is such that they keep on going after jobs that are currently hot that are non-existent by the time they graduate so we want to end that mismatch between skills and job opportunities,” he responded.

The mismatch between schooling and job opportunities has been a problem in the Philippines in recent years.  A 2009 labor department study found skilled workers are needed in the mining, outsourcing and agriculture sectors. However many schools emphasize degrees in business administration, hotel and restaurant management, leaving students less prepared for available jobs when they graduate.

Ben, a student at the University of the Philippines Los Baños, asked about national defense priorities.

“Which should you prioritize for defense, Mindanao or the Spratlys Islands?  If that is too specific for you Mr. President, what can you say about the overall defense of this country?” he asked.

President Aquino said the way to strengthen the military and law enforcement was first to give their workers financial support with deeply discounted housing.  Government is dispensing small units to officers that they can own for less than 10 percent of what they pay in monthly rent.

“We expect them to hold the utmost in terms of professionalism, at the same time they barely make ends meet,” he said.

The president also said funds are being put towards buying badly needed defense assets such as weapons and patrol craft for the Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force.

As for solving the Muslim and Communist rebellions, Aquino says “the first freedom -freedom from hunger” is the priority.  He also said the way to eliminate the problem of having the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s rebellion is to address the lack of basic services, such as infrastructure and schools, where a majority of the country’s Muslims are based.

Google, which produces World View, approached Aquino to be the show’s first Asian-leader guest.  Google Asia’s public policy country lead Deborah Nga says organizers liked that he was willing to be grilled by the public.

“Also because of him and his administration’s commitment to democracy and free speech and his administration is also a very avid user of social media,” Nga explained.

She says the group took notice when the president’s office recently launched two new YouTube channels.

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