Cyber Corridor: A huge success, a huge legacy - PGMA
Davao City -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo lauded the country's cyber industry as a strategic success and said whoever will succeed her in June should build upon what her administration has achieved in the industry to bring the Philippines to the verge of the first world in 20 years.
The President, who completed a one-day, four-city tour Wednesday, visited the Concentrix call center facility inside the Damosa IT Park in the city, said that while much remains to be done in the cyber industry sector, she will be turning over in June to a new government "a new Philippines that is ready for the challenges of the first world."
Earlier in the day, the President visited Iloilo, Bacolod and Cebu.
She said the strategic initiatives in information and communications technology (ICT) she launched at the start of her tenure in 2001 have turned the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector in the country into a $7.3 billion industry as of last year, enough to challenge, she said, the supremacy of India's $9 billion-a-year call center sector.
"From scratch with only 2,000 workers before I became President, we have created a global powerhouse: the Philippine BPO industry," said the President as she spoke before the officers of the ICT Davao Inc., the umbrella group for the more than 220 firms engaged in ICT-related business in the region.
Davao city is one of the 10 cities nationwide billed as "new wave cities " of the Cyber Corridor, the ICT component of a 2006 program that mapped out five "Super Regions" for focused strategic development to hasten the tempo of national economic advance under the Arroyo administration. Also intended to move away certain industries from congested Metro Manila, the Cyber Corridor stretches from the Pampanga urban centers to Davao where ICT potentials and opportunities abound, like in Metro Manila and Metro Cebu.
According to Wit Holganza, a BPO entrepreneur and president of ICT Davao, they are highly encouraged by the Cyber Corridor concept so that her group is looking at making Davao the preferred destination for ICT investments, products and services.
President Arroyo said the strategic initiatives toward the Cyber Corridor have resulted in the dramatic rise in figures for cyber industry or ICT activities, especially the call center employment in the country.
She said that as of end 2009, a total of 446,000 were employed in the BPO sector, compared to the measly 2,400 in Y2000. For 2010, BPO employment nationwide is projected to shoot up to 1 million.
Other dramatic figures cited by the President were the increase of cell phone units in use nationwide to 170 million from 4 million in 2004 which account an estimated 500 million to 600 million text messages and mobile calls reported each day; increase to 24 million as of September last year in the number of internet users in the country (from only 2 million in Y2000); and P5.5 billion in investments posted in the ICT sector in the first quarter of 2001.
The President said that the remarkable improvements in the Philippine cyber industry sector helped much to bail out the country from economic chaos and the political turmoil 10 years ago.
"The economy then was jammed in reverse and few investments and jobs were being created. It was a time of low salaries and high inflation", she said.
"Into this dismal picture we stepped. I did not seek the Office of the President in 2001, it was thrust upon me. But rather than shirk from this onerous task, we rolled up our sleeves, determined to turn the Philippines around," she added.
She said the huge success of the cyber industry was attained by encouraging billions of investments in broadband services, providing the appropriate policy and legal environment like the creation of the Commission on ICT and removing too much government interference in the industry and supporting the industry with development programs for human capital, as well.
The President said her revisiting of the Cyber Corridor is a review of the legacy of accomplishments she will leave the Filipino people when she steps down in June. (PIA-MMIO) [top]