MANILA, Philippines – In his speech at the 7th annual International IT-BPM Summit 2015 held Tuesday, October 6, President Benigno Aquino III included Liberal Party presidential bet Mar Roxas in his praise of the country’s Information Technology-Business Process Management (IT-BPM) industry.
Aquino, who called the industry’s success “a microcosm of our administration’s inclusive growth agenda,” cited Roxas’ contribution in growing the IT-BPM sector as the former trade and industry secretary. The president said his administration hopes to replicate the IT-BPM industry’s success in other sectors, as well as throughout the entire economy.
“In the middle of the Asian financial crisis, he scrutinized what seemed like a grim economic landscape and saw potential in the union of our countrymen’s talents and your sector,” said Aquino of Roxas, who was present at the summit.
“He reached out to industry leaders, and through the ‘Make IT Philippines’ strategy, aggressively marketed the Philippines as a destination for investments in this sector.”
The president went on to add that Roxas’ facilitation of the IT-BPM’s growth and the subsequent progress of the Filipino people had never been for personal gain. He cited Roxas’ express instructions to his family forbidding them from applying to be part of the ecozones. It was, said Aquino, the reason that “Cubao in Quezon City was one of the last places to be developed as a location for the IT-BPM industry.”
‘Father of the BPO Industry’
The Aranetas, Roxas’ relatives on his mother’s side, has a significant stake in the development of Araneta Center in Cubao, Quezon City as a business, entertainment, and leisure location. It is currently undergoing a facelift via a 20-year master redevelopment plan, which include enticing IT-BPM to locate to the site.
“I understand it has only been very, very recently that it has joined this bandwagon. It does not come as any surprise, then, that Mar is now known as the ‘Father of the BPO Industry in the Philippines,'” he said.
The President emphasized the care that Roxas, together with partners in the industry, took in establishing and driving the growth of IT-BPM in the Philippines, claiming it resulted in an unparalleled boom.
“All of you (IT-BPM industry players) play a part in this: You continue to make the decision to bet on the inherent skill, dynamism, and creativity of Filipinos – and your decision likewise continues to pay off,” Aquino said.
The President also recalled that in 2010, he made what he thought was a very reasonable request to the IT-BPM leadership: “to help in our efforts to grow the economy, then maybe they could expand their workforce from 20,000 employees to 30,000 employees by the end of our administration.”
“Now, with a few months still remaining in my term, they have not only granted that request of a 30,000-workforce. They have even doubled what I originally asked for, because now they stand at 60,000 employees. In hindsight, I should have asked for the latter figure,” Aquino quipped.
He added that each of the individual companies operating in the country have similarly compelling stories. He went on to say that in his time as President, he has “celebrated the breakneck pace at which you have grown: from $8.9 billion in revenues in 2010, to $18.9 billion in 2014; from 527,000 employees in 2010 to more than double that, at 1.07 million employees in 2014.”
The President also credited the IT-BPM industry for providing stable incomes to more than a million Filipinos.
“Even better news comes in the fact that one-third of the IT-BPM industry’s workforce, or more than 300,000 men and women are employed outside Metro Manila, which means that your industry brings development to the countryside,” he said.
Aquino noted that all administrations have sought to accelerate the development of the countryside through infrastructure development, power generation, an increased focus on agriculture, and the pursuit of industrialization, among other interventions.
“They have met varying degrees of success. For us, however, one thing is clear: Your industry can be non-existent in a particular area today; but, once the facilities are in place – once you see that talent is widely available, the IT-BPM industry takes root and suddenly brings about massive development,” he said.
He cited statistics showing that with every new job the IT-BPM industry creates, an additional 2.5 indirect jobs are generated in support services – from restaurants and convenience stores to public transportation and housing.
“Thus, on top of the 300,000 men and women you already employed, you have also helped to give livelihoods to an additional 750,000 Filipinos outside Metro Manila. Even in our dream of bringing rapid development to the countryside, the IT-BPM industry is a positive contributor,” Aquino said.
Partners for growth
Aquino said IT-BPM is on its way to become a $25 billion industry, “although I still question the figures presented by the Secretary of Trade.”
“The Philippines has been the global leader in voice BPM since 2010 – and is quickly pursuing the same kind of success in the various other fields of the industry. To those of you who have bet on our people: Does not your experience tell you that, indeed, we have the capacity to become number one in so many other fields?”
He said that the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) and the government, together with other stakeholders, are already working together to move up the value chain.
He included the Service Management Program or SMP, designed to cultivate the skills needed for employment in the industry, saying that the UP Open University and IBPAP were working together to convert SMP courseware into an online format benefitting 1,200 enrollees to date.
“A significant number of these are actually overseas Filipino workers who, upon returning home, have a better chance of finding employment with you,” he noted.
He also cited IBPAP’s collaboration with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), under the Training for Work Scholarship Program (TWSP), to train graduates seeking employment in your companies.
“As of August this year, government funding for TWSP for the IT-BPM sector has reached P1.61 billion ($34.68 million), which has benefited more than 200,000 Filipinos.
He said that he was told various associations in the IT-BPM industry have likewise partnered with TESDA to implement training programs in animation and game development in different areas in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. In particular, he cited the Game Development Association of the Philippines, which has taken significant steps toward developing the capacities in this area.
Developing more cities outside Metro Manila which can play host to IT-BPM operations are also ongoing, Aquino said, with 42 cities and areas on the priority list, as well as roadshows to promote the industry already completed in Capiz and Pangasinan. The last stop, General Santos, will be completed in a month’s time.
“We have done so much together,” said the president. “Thank you for partnering with us, not only to maintain our industry lead, but also to enter other avenues and offer more specialized services. To my mind, this is the best thing about the Philippines’ IT-BPM industry: There are many areas yet to explore. Our success story is far from over,” he said.
Aquino, who ends his term in June of 2016, said that “by this time next year, I will only be hearing about the next IT-BPM Summit when I read the newspapers or watch television. By this time next year, the Philippines would have made its voice heard on the crucial question of 2016: Will the principles, governance, and reforms that have brought us to this point continue? Or would the country have decided it to turn its back on everything we have achieved? I have every confidence and every faith that the Filipino people will choose the path to even greater success for the entire nation.”
He added, “I may be a private citizen then, and still IT-challenged, no longer making the rounds on stages like this one, but do not worry: I will cheer you on just as much as I have done these past 5 years as President. After all, I have seen firsthand the confidence you have in my countrymen and the investments you have made to build on their skills. I have seen that as your companies continue to have good days and look forward to brighter prospects, you ensure the same for Filipinos and their families.” – Rappler.com
$1 = P46.42