Tuesday, 21 February 2012 10:19
President Benigno S. Aquino III has accomplished quite a bit since his landslide victory in the May 2010 elections, according to former House Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr.
De Venecia, founding chairman of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) and of Centrist Asia-Pacific Democratic International (CAPDI), rated the incumbent President quite highly during his first 18 months in office.
"From outside looking in, I would say President Aquino has accomplished quite a bit," De Venecia, the only former five-time speaker in the House of Representatives, told newsmen in Dagupan City.
De Venecia repeated what he said in the Ist General Membership Meeting of the Institute of Internal Auditors Philippines at the Intercontinental Hotel in Makati City last February 16 that the President is doing good so far.
He said in his opinion, most important of all, President Aquino raised the national morale "from the anxieties and even despair of the last nine years."
While the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona may be causing apprehensions about the constitutional processes among some quarters, broad opinion surveys show popular opinion to be on the side of the President, De Venecia stressed.
At the same time, De Venecia said that President Aquino has begun to raise the country's global competitiveness.
He added that Mr. Aquino's Cabinet appointments and his initial approach to governance have gained not only the voters' approval but also the support of the business community.
On the issue of foreign competitiveness, the country had moved up 10 places -- from 85th to 75th out of 142 economies surveyed -- in the Global Competitiveness Rankings of the World Economic for 2010-2011, he noted.
But he said that the country still falls below the global median and if the gains so far sustained can be maintained, "this could eventually get us out of the economic hole we're in."
He cited statistics which showed that between 2010 and April 2011, the economy generated over 1.4 million net new jobs. Agriculture by itself gained 645,000 jobs.
Crop production was up by 11 percent in the first semester, registering 5.5 percent overall growth in agriculture. Services gained 632,000 and industry, 132,000 jobs, respectively.
De Venecia also said that through the government's Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program, the President has also begun to strike at the roots of absolute poverty in the country.
President Aquino's first budget set aside nearly P30 billion for the CCT program that prevents children from the poorest families from dropping out of school.
The CCT program pays the country's poorest families P1,400 a month on condition that they keep their grade school children in school and present them for periodic health checks.
At the same time, he said that President Aquino also moderated corruption just by showing he would not tolerate it among officials in the most sensitive offices of government.
"Nor has President Aquino shirked controversy, in his effort to chart a straight and narrow path -- 'ang daang matuwid' -- for his Administration", De Venecia said.
But despite these rosy accomplishments in so short a time, De Venecia stressed that the country needs to grow twice as fast as its neighbors in Asia.
"The foreign chambers calculate that our country needs to grow twice as fast as its historical average if our country is to attain industrial state status by 2030. By their reckoning, our economy must grow by 11.6 percent yearly over the next 18 years," he said.
He agreed with the suggestions of the foreign chambers on the need for the government to foster greater openness and to level the field of competition.
De Venecia said that aside from controlling corruption, more reforms should be put in place, including the need to have a stronger tax system and modern party system.
Professionalizing the bureaucracy has been made even more urgent by President Aquino's decision to invest sizable chunks of public money on landmark infrastructure and large-scale anti-poverty programs, he said.
"The way to modernization is by now well marked. All we lack is the collective will to follow it -- and this determination we Filipinos must raise, if we are not to end up as the East Asian backwater," he added.
by: Leonardo V. Micua - PNA
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