Sunday, February 23, 2020

Palace: 'Build, Build, Build' program can help workers displaced by Honda plant shutdown

Malacañang on Sunday promised to look for new jobs for workers who will be displaced by the shutdown of the manufacturing operations of Honda Cars Philippines Inc. in Laguna next month.

Honda announced on Saturday that it would close its automobile production operations in Santa Rosa City, a move that it said was in line with its "optimization efforts in the production operations in Asia and Oceania region."

A total of 387 employees would be affected by the shutdown and would be given separation packages that the car manufacturer would be more than the law requires. "We will have to find new jobs. If they (Honda) decide to shut down (its operations), what can we do? They incurred losses. We will have to look for jobs for them," presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a radio interview.

"That's why we have the 'Build, Build, Build' (infrastructure) project so that other displaced workers would find another job," he added.

Vehicle sales dropped for the first time in seven years in 2018, the year higher automobile taxes started to take effect.

Total sales went down by 16% to 357,410 units two years ago from 425,673 vehicles in 2017, according to a report by the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. and the Truck Manufacturers Association. Panelo, however, said he believes that the closure was not due to the higher taxes on some vehicles, which took effect in January 2018.

"How come the others did not shut down (their operations). Maybe they incurred losses, maybe fewer people bought cars from them," the Palace spokesman said.

"Perhaps the problem of the company you mentioned lies on promotion and quality. If consumers find better, more quality items, they would patronize them," he added. Panelo said the impact of the closure would just be "minimal" because "many companies are entering" the Philippines.

The Honda plant in Laguna started operations in 1992 and locally produces Honda models BR-V and City.