Almost one million call center agents are at the risk of losing their jobs if President Rodrigo Duterte follows on his threat to cut the Philippines’ diplomatic ties with the United States (US).
During his speech on Sunday, October 2, at the 37th MassKara Festival in Bacolod, President Duterte threatened to cut the Philippines’ alliance with the US saying that the country’s ties with the superpower is hindering his war on drugs and his peace talks with rebel groups in Mindanao.
“Better think twice now because I would be asking you to leave the Philippines altogether,” Duterte said.
The president then added that he will put the Enhancement Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the US, which was signed during former President Benigno Aquino III’s time, on review to see if it was signed by Aquino back in 2014.
If proven that the agreement was not signed, Duterte said that he will make the US troops leave Mindanao so he can convince the rebels to participate in peace talks.
“That prompted me to say there will be a time that I may ask the Americans to leave Mindanao to enable me to connect with them and to talk. Maybe they will decide to negotiate,” Duterte said.
“Alam mo itong mga Americano… Sabi ko, I will open up another front sa ating foreign policy. Kung gaano kabastos ang ginawa mo, binabastos mo ako. Well, sabi ko, hiwalay-hiwalay na lang tayo (You know these Americans… I said I will open up another front in our foreign policy. How you have been insulting… You have been insulting me. Well, I said, we can just part ways),” he added
Meanwhile, in a statement, Senator Panfilo Lacson said that the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry of country would suffer the greatest if President Duterte destroys its good relationship with the US.
Being the biggest contributor to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), the BPO industry provides livelihood for over a million Filipino. However, Sen. Lacson fears that the Philippines will lose the $18 billion revenue that the industry brings in annually if the president makes good on his threats.
According to Lacson, Filipino call center agents will have a hard time learning Russian and Chinese if Duterte pursues its ties with Russia and China in exchange for the businesses and investments that the country is sure to lose once it severs its alliance with the US.
Lacson then urged the president’s advisers to convince Duterte that it will be detrimental for the country to destroy its diplomatic relations with US.
On the other hand, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano is confident that the independent foreign policy that the Duterte administration developed will gain the country more allies and ‘zero enemy’.
“The President is a genius,” Cayetano commented in an ambush interview.
Photo Cover from Eqod