Unemployed increasing in the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – A total of 3.1 million Filipinos were jobless in April, with the country’s jobless rate rising to 8%, despite faster-than-expected economic growth, according to the latest Labor Force Survey of the National Statistics Office (NSO).

The NSO said the unemployment rate was higher than the previous 7.3% recorded in January, representing 2.8 million unemployed Filipinos for the month. It was also higher than the 7.5% jobless rate recorded in April 2009.

The jobless rate last touched the 8% mark in April 2008.

The statistics office did not specify a reason for the sharp jump in the jobless rate, though the total labor force inched down to 38.5 million in April from 38.8 million in January.

Underemployed workers — or those who want to work longer hours — fell to 6.3 million, or 17.8%, from 7.1 million in January. It was the lowest rate since October 2008.

About 59% of the under-employed worked for less than 40 hours a week, mostly coming from the agriculture sector.

The jobless rate climbed despite strong economic growth of 7.3% in the first quarter, the fastest since the second quarter of 2007 and beating market and government estimates. Seasonally adjusted growth in the January to March quarter was the highest in 22 years.

The Philippines has one of the highest jobless rates in Southeast Asia. With a report from Reuters

RP to prepare regional plan

SINGAPORE — The Philippines was tapped by leaders of Southeast Asia and the United States to prepare a new five-year cooperation plan covering trade, labor mobility, cultural exchange and others following their first-ever meeting yesterday.

The move reflected Washington’s policy shift toward a more active involvement in the region, marked by a decision to engage members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) without treating countries like Myanmar as outcasts.

A statement was issued following the first meeting between a US president and heads of all 10 ASEAN countries, calling for “broader and deeper” cooperation and enhanced economic cooperation, particularly in easing customs procedures. They agreed to hold a second meeting next year.

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UN on RP disasters: Worst yet to come

MANILA, Philippines—Storms worse than “Ondoy” and “Pepeng” will hit the Philippines in the coming years, but the country is one of the least prepared nations in Southeast Asia to cope with natural disasters, a United Nations official warned Tuesday.

Jerry Velasquez, senior regional coordinator of the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) agency, said the Philippines was even worse than military-ruled Burma (Myanmar) in coping with natural calamities.

Saying the worst calamities were yet to come, Velasquez stressed: “The period of talking is now over—the time for action has begun.”


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RP tops list of drug users

The Philippines ranked No. 1 in Southeast Asia as the country with the most number of drug users based on the 2008 World Drug report released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), however, is not convinced about the finding.

Based on the UN report, prevalence of amphetamine abuse in the Philippines was found to be at 6 percent of the population aged 15 to 64 years old. Amphetamine is a “racemic compound or one of its derivatives [as dextroamphetamine or methamphetamine] frequently abused as a stimulant of the central nervous system but used clinically especially as the sulfate or hydrochloride salt to treat hyperactive children and the symptoms of narcolepsy and as a short-term appetite suppressant in dieting.”

The number for the Philippines is far greater than that of second-placed Thailand with 0.8 percent, followed by the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, or Laos with 0.7 percent, Cambodia with 0.6 percent and Myanmar and Vietnam each with 0.2 percent.

The report said that from the 20,000 drug users in the Philippines in 1972, the number climbed up to 6.7 million in 2004, meaning that one in every 29 Filipinos aged 10 to 44 was on drugs.

It added that the preferred illegal substances of Filipinos were methampethamine hydrochloride, popularly called “shabu,” and marijuana.

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