A former dean at the University of the Philippines (UP) on Wednesday backed the move of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to strengthen domestic industries and push for product localization.
At the virtual roundtable @ Lido, former UP School of Labor and Industrial Relations dean Rene Ofreneo said it is a high time for the government to revive domestic industrialization.
“We need to have industrial re-envisioning. I like what (DTI Secretary) Mon Lopez said, ‘let’s look inward’,” Ofreneo said in mixed English and Filipino.
He said the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic provided an opportunity for the country to look for areas of development, including rebuilding the steel industry.
“Strategizing skills and industrial development was lost in (the) government’s program,” Ofreneo said, adding neighboring countries like China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan have synchronized skills upgrading while pushing for industrialization.
Ofreneo said government agencies such as the DTI, Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) have to realign programs as these agencies have different industrial priorities.
He said at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, local industries have supplied the domestic demands as lockdown measures became a challenge for imported products to reach the Philippine market.
Ofreneo also highlighted the country’s need to further boost local sectors, particularly in agriculture to supply food for over 100 million people.
But as the government relaxed community quarantine measures, imported products have started to increase their share in the local market while local industries were left behind again, he added.
To boost local industries, Ofreneo said the government has to “climb up the industrial ladder while improving the skills ladder and technology ladder”.