Press Release
March 29, 2016


Presidential candidate Miriam Defensor Santiago on Tuesday vowed to create more jobs in the countryside if elected president, so that Filipinos would no longer need to relocate to urban centers or work overseas to support their families.

Santiago said her administration would focus on economic development, poverty reduction, and jobs creation by investing heavily on public infrastructure, modernizing agriculture, and attracting foreign investors.

"I commit that the Philippine economy will grow faster than ever before, and that it will be truly inclusive. We will make sure that real incomes of workers all over the country will increase over time," the senator said.

The program of government Santiago posted on her website shows that she intends to spark economic activity outside Metro Manila by implementing one major infrastructure project and setting up one mixed-used government center per region.

She also promised to build an entirely new railway system from Manila to Sorsogon and a modern urban transit system in Metro Manila, with lines reaching urban communities in Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite, and Laguna.

Santiago's statement was in response to results of an online poll that three out of four Filipinos prefer to work in their hometowns rather than seek jobs elsewhere. The survey was conducted by the Labor Department and online job marketplace Jobstreet.

Santiago, a former Agrarian Reform Secretary, also lamented the poor state of agriculture in the country. This directly impacts the Philippines' poverty situation, she said, noting that agricultural workers belong to the poorest of the poor.

"For the income and productivity of farmers to grow, the government should attract rather than chase out private capital in the agriculture sector. We must also match private capital with public investment," the senator said.

Santiago's agenda includes investing in farm-to-market roads, irrigation and water impounding facilities, as well as research, particularly for the development of disaster-resilient farming technologies and crop varieties.

She added that her administration will consider how the existing Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program, where most beneficiaries are farmers and fisherfolk, may be improved to become a more direct form of support for the agricultural sector.

"Grant-for-produce programs may be put in place in rural areas, following the logic of grant-for-work programs we will implement in urban poor communities. This means that incentives will be provided to more productive farmers," Santiago said.

To boost manufacturing and the creation of national industries, the senator said she will work to attract more foreign direct investment (FDI) and at the same time provide a business climate for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to flourish.

Santiago's agenda includes streamline business process and licensing procedures, improving the power situation, and enhance trade facilitation measures. The constitutional expert is also open to easing restrictions on foreign ownership.

"Preparing our local government units to accommodate FDI is the same as encouraging more Filipinos to put up their MSMEs. The complaints about red tape and lack of transparency are the same," the senator said.

Santiago earlier announced that she has joined clinical trials for a new anti-cancer pill, but she remains the top choice for president among millennials, winning by landslide almost all campus surveys held after the filing of certificates of candidacy.

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