Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the Duterte administration’s record spending on human capital development is meant to gear up young Filipinos for the country’s “demographic sweet spot” by nurturing them into a dynamic and well-trained workforce capable of sustaining the economy’s high growth long into the foreseeable future.
Dominguez challenged the country’s young achievers to use what they have learned in school to either solve real problems that Filipinos experience or bring their skills to the public service rather than just calling out errors or wrongdoings they see or read in social media to be able to claim how “woke” they have become.
“No matter how many likes or hearts your last post received, it cannot, on its own, raise the resources needed to sustain an effective program or help poor families access the credit they need to invest in healthcare or their children’s education,” Dominguez told students from different universities and colleges gathered at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) for the first ever Sulong Pilipinas consultative workshop catered exclusively to the youth.
“A young population is one of our country’s greatest assets. We need to be ready to reap the benefits of our ‘demographic sweet spot,’ by cultivating a dynamic and well-trained workforce to enable sustained economic expansion long into the foreseeable future,” Dominguez said.
He said “this is the reason we have devoted a significant portion of our increasing revenue flows from the improved collection performance as well as from tax reforms toward investments in our human capital.”
On behalf of President Duterte, Dominguez accepted the recommendations from the young participants at the Sulong workshop.
Prioritizing countryside development and rural businesses to increase opportunities for those outside urban areas; providing more financial support for scientists and increasing funding for science and technology; and building more medical facilities with adequate equipment and properly compensated medical professionals in rural areas were among the top recommendations from the youth sector on how the government can better carry out its goal of inclusive growth.
“These recommendations, coming from the successor generation, will enlighten our policymaking,” Dominguez said.
The event included representatives from more than 40 universities and colleges and organizations such as the National Federation of Junior Philippine Institute of Accountants (NFJPIA) – NCR, and the Junior Philippine Economics Society (JPES).
Youth groups such as the Youth for Sin Tax, Youth Alliance for Health Reform (YAHR), and Benilde Student Government also took part in the Sulong workshop and delivered their own statements of support for the Duterte administration’s comprehensive tax reform program (CTRP), which they presented to the Finance Secretary.
Dominguez reminded young Filipinos that being “woke” must translate into action carried beyond the clicks or comments they make on social media.
“The ‘call-out’ culture should take a backseat to what is true activism–meaningful and proactive action that will improve the lives of the Filipino people,” Dominguez said.
Dominguez said the youth’s active voices in social media and their energetic participation on societal issues during gatherings like the Sulong workshop prove that they are heavily invested in pushing for genuine change.
“You, the young Filipinos, are the direct beneficiaries of the sustained growth we seek to achieve through the reforms we now undertake. The future belongs to you. You have the greatest stake in our economy’s success. It will shape your career paths and the quality of your lives. Your voices must be heard,” he said.
But the youth’s participation should not stop in Sulong or social media as it is their responsibility as law-abiding citizens to make meaningful change happen in the real world, Dominguez said.
“Real problems require real solutions–and we all know that not everyone will click on ‘like’ for every good idea that also manages to strike a balance among competing interests. Every solution will result in ‘winners and losers’ and the winners will like you, and the losers might dislike you. It takes courage and grit to fight for what you know is right, whether or not it is trending positively online,” he added.
Dominguez said that according to various global reports, millennials are expected to make up about 50 percent of the worldwide workforce and take senior positions across all sectors.
This situation, he said, presents both an opportunity and a challenge as a huge wave of young jobseekers requires the economy to grow fast to accommodate them in the workforce.
Dominguez expressed the hope that talented young Filipinos will join the government service as the country needs more of them to “bring in new perspectives and reinvent and refresh the governance of this country.”
According to Dominguez, he values working with young people as proven by the fact that the average age of the members of his team at the Department of Finance (DOF) is close to 25, comprising valedictorians and achievers from various universities who are “highly energetic, dynamic, dedicated and smart young individuals.”
“We need you to remind all of us belonging to older and more cynical generations for whom we are actually working so hard to make things better and that you are willing to dedicate some of the best years of your professional lives to achieving the same,” Dominguez said.
The first Sulong Pilipinas consultative workshop was held in Davao City in June 2016 just weeks before then-Mayor Duterte assumed office as President.
The annual Sulong Pilipinas is jointly organized by the government and the business community to receive the recommendations of the private sector on how the Duterte administration can better deliver its goal of a secure and comfortable life for every law-abiding Filipino.
The campus edition of Sulong in UST provided an avenue for the government to provide first-hand information to some 500 students from more than 40 universities and collegeson the Duterte administration’s CTRP and 0-to-10-point socioeconomic reform agenda for high and inclusive growth.