MANILA (3rd UPDATE) - Jobs are missing from the economic growth under the Aquino administration, Senator JV Ejercito said Monday.
Ejercito, a son of former President Joseph Estrada, claimed that more than half of all Filipinos are jobless.
"After four state of the nation addresses, our problem remains the same. Jobs are missing! This affects more than 50% of Filipino people who remain jobless," he said, according to a text message sent to ABS-CBN News by his office.
The Philippines posted a 7.8% first quarter GDP growth but unemployment also rose to a 3-year high of 7.5% in April -- not 50%, contrary to Ejercito's claim.
"It is unfortunate that as we enter the last half of the PNoy administration, the promises of 'walang mahirap' remain to be seen," the statement said. "While President Aquino is boasting on the so-called economic growth, more than half of the Filipino masses continue to consider themselves as suffering from severe poverty."
"I just hope that the Aquino administration will do more tangible accomplishment for the interest of the Filipino people," it added.
Ejercito later disowned the statement and denied saying half of all Filipinos are jobless.
"MRO released without my approval. Was so furious since my statements in the interviews after the SONA was different," he told ABS-CBNNews.com
"I think it was a typo [error] supposed to be 7.5% unemployment rate , 20.9% underemployment rate [in] the first quarter. Checked with staff," he said.
"Instead of criticizing PNoy, I challenge his administration to focus on job creation and poverty alleviation in next half of (his) term," he said.
"My statement was more of a challenge in my interviews rather than a criticism," he added. "Challenging PNoy to address poverty, underemployment and joblessness in the 2nd half of his term will be for the good of the masa."
According to the statement from Ejercito's office, the senator believes that nothing has changed since Aquino took office.
The newly elected senator said the government should focus on job generation instead of the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program.
Senator Bongbong Marcos, meanwhile, said Aquino should have mentioned his administration's fiscal policy.
"Wala akong narinig na plano, walang fiscal policy. Puro mention lang ng achievements. Gusto ko sanang marinig kung saan niya tayo gustong dalhin," he said.
He also believed that Aquino is is "misinformed" about his father, the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
"Lahat ng binanggit niyang problema, eh nangyari noong 1986," he said.
Aquino mentioned the former dictator in his SONA when he discussed government plans to build the so-called Metro Manila Highway.
"Ang problema po: Nag-atas si Ginoong Marcos ng mga batas na pabor sa kanyang crony. Nakatali tayo sa pagsunod sa mga batas na ito: Sino mang magpatayo ng imprastruktura sa lugar na iyon, dapat kasosyo ang korporasyon ng kanyang kaibigan," Aquino said.
Senator Nancy Binay, meanwhile, said Aquino's SONA was "okay."
"Okay naman, pero sana mas nilinaw niya kung paano ipaparamdam sa mas marami yung growth na nararanasan sa ekonomiya," she said. - with reports from Ryan Chua and Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News