ADMINISTRATION candidate Manuel Roxas II insisted on Saturday that he was the “Father of the IT-BPO sector,” but an industry pioneer disputed the claim and said the credit should go to former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Speaking before a group of call center agents in Muntinlupa City, Roxas insisted that he started the local business process outsourcing industry when he was still secretary of Trade and Industry during the Arroyo administration.
“We started and expanded this BPO sector when I was still DTI chief. I still remember that people would laugh at me as they did not understand what are call centers, or IT-BPOs. But now, you can see that more than one million jobs and livelihood are created,” Roxas said.
“There’s really a big impact to our economy, and I am overjoyed for the support and trust that they have given me and our countrymen can expect that the development of call centers, IT-BPO sector will give relief to our countrymen,” Roxas said.
However, industry pioneer Oscar Sañez, who led IT and Business Processing Association of the Philippines from 2007 to 2011, disputed Roxas’ claim and said the industtry’s phenomenal growth should go to Arroyo.
Sañez said there were only 2,400 call center workers in 2000 when Roxas was named DTI secretary and he served less than a year because he resigned in 2001 at the height of the second People Power uprising against then President Joseph Estrada.
Although he was later re-appointed by Arroyo, he resigned the DTI portfolio in 2003 because he wanted to run for senator.
While Roxas was attending to his politics, Sañez said the industry grew on an average of 65 percent per annum over a decade and had nearly half a million workers by the end of 2009 which was Mrs. Arroyo’s last full year in office.
Even when Roxas was no longer in the DTI, total export revenues generated by the IT-BPO industry grew from only $1.3 billion in 2003 to $8.9 billion in 2010.
“I know how much the business process offshoring and outsourcing sector owes Mrs. Arroyo. We are proud to describe ourselves as a successful model of real private public partnership or PPP,” Sañez added.
He said the Arroyo administration’s support to the industry included the creation of the ITBPAP, creation of the Commission on Information and Communication Technology, providing investor support through the accreditation of buildings used by the industry, completion of infrastructure projects like airports, and training vouchers from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority worth over P800 million from 2007-09.
However, Roxas insisted that he created more than a million jobs in the BPO industry and that he would repeat at creating more jobs for the Filipino people.
In Cavite, however, he admitted that he has had a hard time winning in the province that local leaders dubbed “Binay country.”
“Well first, Cavite is for the Caviteños. No one owns Cavite. Second, in Cavite also, they’re the ones who can say that they enjoy better jobs and livelihood,” Roxas said in his four-town sortie in the province.
Binay had earlier made rounds in vote-rich Cavite on the third day of the official campaign period. In 2010, Binay won against Roxas here by around 200,000 votes.
Binay enjoys a strong support here from UNA stalwart Jonvic Remulla, running unopposed for provincial governor who promised the Vice President of a sweeping victory in the “Binay country” come May 9 polls.