• ‘3 years of empty promises’

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    THE first half of President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s term of office has yielded nothing but promises, the entrenchment of elite governance and political dynasties, according to think tank Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG).

    As the President delivers another State of the Nation speech today, the group based in the University of the Philippines assessed the his performance and found him wanting. It said Aquino’s first three years in power “entrenched elite rule in all major aspects of governance, politically and economically.”

    Prof. Bobby Tuazon, CenPEG director for policy studies, said the economic growth was sustained by the marginalized sector, particularly by the ever-growing remittances of overseas Filipino workers and election spending. He added that the GDP growth did not trickle down to the masses but only widened the gap between the super-rich and the poor.

    “Three years of empty promises nuanced by vacillations and inaction only point to an “ampaw presidency”—deceptively solid outside but only hot air inside,” Tuazon said. “In the end, Aquino’s vaunted ‘Kayo ang boss ko’ [the masses are my boss]shibboleth is hypocritical and meaningless. Such deceptive phrase has been repeated over and over again a la Goebbels the motive being to hide the truth. And the truth is that Aquino’s real bosses are his fellow political oligarchs, big business, and the Obama administration.”

    Tuazon summed up the assessment of CenPEG’s panel of eight analysts during its pre-SONA 5th State of the Presidency forum held in UP Diliman.

    He said Aquino “defied the constitutional ban and a burgeoning mass movement calling for an end to political dynasties by campaigning openly for a cousin for the Senate and numerous leaders of traditional clans to ensure their election at all levels in the recent mid-term elections.”

    He added that despite the public outrage over the latest pork barrel scam, the President made no move to remove the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of lawmakers in the 2014 budget. This is a clear message “of presidential tolerance if not tacit endorsement of corruption in the guise of seeking “friendly relations” with Congress to ensure passage of Malacañang’s priority bills,” Tuazon said.

    He also bewailed Aquino’s failure to set up a comprehensive and institutional reform to curb corruption. In fact, Tuazon said, recent reports show an upsurge in corruption at the local level and the police.

    On the other hand, Prof. Temario Rivera, CenPEG Fellow and Board chair, said the May elections resulted in the entrenchment of political dynasties in 95 percent of 81 provinces.

    Another CenPEG analyst, Prof. Ben Lim, said the 7.8 percent GDP does not tell the whole truth.

    “While Aquino’s economists and business cronies as well as foreign financial experts extol about the phenomenal rise in the country’s GDP growth, they were silent on the fact that along with the GDP rise is the sensational rise in the prices of all basic commodities including tuition,” he said.

    Lim said the economy may be at a breakneck pace, but there has been no improvement in people’s lives. He said 25 million Filipinos, or 27.9 percent of the population, are living in poverty.

    But Tuazon said the number of unemployed has grown by one million to 11 million under Aquino. He cited IBON Foundation and Fortune magazine reports that the net worth of the 40 richest Filipinos has increased dramatically under Aquino—from $22.8 billion in 2010 to $47.4 billion in 2012.

    Their combined net worth is equivalent to the combined income of 60 million Filipinos and is equivalent to over one-fifth (21 percent) of the 2012 GDP.

    “Income inequality and social injustice has worsened under Aquino,” he said.

    Tuazon added that the country’s foreign policy has never been tied more closely to the US’ war policy than under Aquino.

    UP Prof. Roland Simbulan, another CenPEG Fellow, said since 2010, the President has placed foreign policy “in the hands of Albert del Rosario and security policy with Voltaire Gazmin, both considered to be very close to Washington circles. Lately, the two have been arrogating foreign policy and security policy formulation from the President, and have acted as articulators and spokespersons of Washington and Pentagon in Malacañang.”

    Simbulan said Aquino’s foreign policy “highlights a restoration of US military forces in the Philippines. Not only that. On a strategic level, this foreign policy has adjusted itself to be beyond being a supporting column of Pentagon policy in the Asia-Pacific. It has become like a drone, directed by Washington and Pentagon for surveillance and as an attack dog to those who challenge US hegemony in the Asia Pacific region.”

    Dean Julkipli Wadi of the UP Institute of Islamic Studies criticized Aquino’s non-inclusive peace road map saying that the peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front MILF) is not enough in establishing peace in Bangsamoro.

    Wadi said the peace process will be protracted and unsettling because of “lingering issues with the MNLF, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and the Sabah claim.”

    Wadi, who is also a CenPEG fellow, doubted if the peace process with the MILF would be completed when Aquino steps down in 2016.

    Tuazon said Filipinos should stop pinning their hopes on Aquino because he has done no institutional reforms.

    “The country’s social, economic, and political challenges are beyond the presidency and prudence dictates that the country’s future should be laid squarely in the people’s hands themselves,” he said.

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    6 Comments

    1. Allow me express my disappointment with Mr. Ampaw, using the lyrics of a song by THE WHO.
      We’ll be fighting in the streets, with our children at our feet
      And the morals that they worship will be gone, and the men who spurred us on
      Sit in judgment of all wrong. They decide and the shotgun sings the song

      I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution, take a bow for the new revolution,
      Smile and grin at the change all around me. Pick up my guitar and play
      Just like yesterday, and I’ll get on my knees and pray
      We don’t get fooled again!! Don’t get fooled again!!

      The change it had to come. we knew it all along.
      We thought liberated from the source of corruption!
      Yet the PHILIPPINES STAYED the same, No, history ain’t changed!
      Filipinos are getting poorer everyday!

      I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution. Take a bow for the new revolution
      Smile and grin at the change all around me, pick up my guitar and play
      Just like yesterday, and I’ll get on my knees and pray
      We don’t get fooled again!!! Oh, no!!!

      I’ll move myself and my family aside! If we happen to be left half alive.
      I’ll get all my papers and smile at the sky. For I know that the hypnotized never lie

      Do ya?

    2. these critics know nothing but faults. they never and will never appreciate goodness, just criticism. These type of people, when given a chance to be part of the organization they’re currently mocking, are far worst leaders. we have have seen these type of people currently occupying top gov’t positions. tsk tsk tsk

    3. Ampaw presidency, all air inside, this may refer to these critics more than to PNoy who have done a lot more compared to what these insatiable people have done to the country. The term all hot-air and no-concrete action describe them more than anyone else.

    4. FILIPINAS…FOR THE RULING CLASS
      Let us not be mistaken…people of the masses were not the one who catapulted Benigno Aquino III into the seat of power other than the Elite, the ruling class, the Civil Society, and the stupid military. So, there are no surprises if they get all the fame, powers and wealth while Aquino II is still at the drivers’ seat.

    5. First of all corruption happens in other countries too like US, China, Russia, etc. what I mean is there are no corruption free societies. However, in the Philippines, corruption is part of the culture. Many high profile cases have not been incarcerrated like former judge Corona, former 1st gentleman Arroyo, Chavit Singson, former Gen Garcia, just to name a few. its just a slap in the hand thats why the problem is endemic. As for the presence of US forces. I think this is the right direction due the threat and silent encroaching of China. What can a dilapidated AFP do to defend the country? AFP was neglected for decades by the politicians and its leadership. we have no choice right now to allow the return of US forces in the country to counter China, until we have a strong and credible external defense. Lastly, in order to create more jobs, we need to be industrialized and to do that we need to produce more engineers and not nurses and call centers or retail jobs. Increase in employment will help reduce poverty.