Friday, November 06, 2009

How the U.S. could create jobs in Philippines' Mindanao region with one single sentence

Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney visited Sutherland's Davao call center in July 2009

Good news, Secretary Clinton is visiting the Philippines next week. I hope President Arroyo and the folks in Manila's United States embassy can offer some insight on how to increase foreign investment in the country.

Of course, short term foreign aid is welcomed in the wake of the recent typhoon disasters, but long term sustainable foreign investment is preferable.

Here's my suggestion on how to increase jobs in the Philippines, especially in its southern regions without spending a single dollar of U.S. taxpayers' money.

Dear Secretary Clinton:

There is an opportunity for the United States to be able to directly impact an entire region of the Philippines and reduce poverty by simply changing one sentence in a paragraph.

As an American working in the contact center business in the Philippines, I would like to offer this suggestion.

I would like to request that the State Department’s travel advisory in Mindanao exclude safe cities like Davao City and Cagayan de Oro. Designating these cities as the same level of risk as Manila and Cebu would be enough. In fact, these cities have lower crime rates than most U.S. cities, yet they are arbitrarily discriminated against with the advisory.

The arbitrary travel advisory on Mindanao is stopping a significant amount of foreign investment coming into Mindanao. There are thousands of potential jobs available in the call center industry, excess of 5,000 or more full time positions if those advisories are revised to exclude Davao City and Cagayan de Oro. With nearly 92% of the contact centers located in the Luzon region alone, the industry is looking to diversify itself to reduce risk especially from typhoon prone regions of Luzon.

God bless,

Don Sausa

Comparisons -- Philippines' Mindanao vs. Egypt

I recently traveled to Mindanao and visited cities like Cagayan de Oro and even "unsafe" areas like Iligan. I spent almost three days there. I'm happy to report that I absolutely felt safe. There were no bombs, no grenades, and absolutely beautiful scenery...yet the entire region has a travel warning. It not only scares Americans and foreign investment, but even uninformed Filipinos are scared to travel there.

I couldn't but help and compare this to my two day visit in Egypt last month, where the State Department has no travel warnings but I felt a little bit unsafe. I went to Cairo and Alexandria. Just to give you some context, I required a full time security escort with automatic weapons the entire time. I was hassled and annoyed by street vendors who were very disrespectful. Colleagues that were with me had incidents of theft in broad daylight. Yet Egypt has no travel warning!

I am confounded to why the State Department continue to discriminate against Mindanao, issuing travel warnings and not specifically excluding safe zones like Davao City and Cagayan de Oro.

The fact on the ground is, terrorism is limited to remote islands southwest of Mindanao. Saying the entire region of Mindanao is dangerous is tantamount to me saying the United States's western coast is dangerous because Hawaii has kidnap for ransom bandits. (To my HI friends, this is just an example, I'm not saying you have bandits.)

I hope at some point the new administration is able to adjust the advisory based on facts on the ground. Even Ambassador Kenney visited Davao and Sutherland's call centers there.

But hey, what do I know... I just live, work, and travel here. ;-)


Anonymous said...


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cagayan de oro jobs said...

Good post. I really think that the State Department shouldn't place a security warning to the Cagayan de Oro and Davao as it would not only help the place and the people there. If they really want this country to progress, then they have to include Mindanao in their plans for investment and marketing strategies.