In 2007 the Gross Domestic Product growth rate was a globally envied high 6.62%. In 2008 (which was when the Global Economic Crisis and financial slump, from which the world economy—specially the euro zone, Japan and the US–has still not completely recovered) our GDP growth rate was 4.15% while others had minus or single-digit growth rates. In 2009, when the crisis did affect us, our GDP rate was 1.15%, but this was still good compared to the negative rate of other countries including our richer neighbors.
In 2010, our GDP growth rate was a whopping 7.63%. President Aquino was already in power for six months at the end of 2010. But this astounding GDP growth rate was the result of the work done by President Arroyo and her administration’s economic managers.
But in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July 2010, he complained that he had found very little money in the government coffers with which to run the government until the end of the year. He told the people and the world in that SONA: “Our budget for 2010 is PhP1.54 trillion. Of this, only PhP100 billion—or 6.5% of the total budget—can be used for the remaining six months of the current year. Roughly 1% of the total budget is left for each of the remaining month.” He asked: “Where did the funds go?” and accused the Arroyo administration of corruption.
Did he not know that the funds went to projects and programs that would bring about by yearend the excellent, admired-by-the-world GDP growth rate of 7.63%?
Maybe he knew and was just being dramatically mendacious. But some analysts have written that President Aquino really did not know, that he was shockingly ignorant of the true state of the government’s finances and cash-flow situation. For he had ignorantly thought that “budget” means “hard cash in hand.” That is indeed the meaning in colloquial Tagalog of the word “budyet.” But in fact a budget is a schedule of “planned expenditures to be made for which there are funds.” He saw—or was told by someone—that all the planned expenditures had been allotted, appropriated, for the projects Congress had approved. So, he thought or was told, only 6.5% was left for him to use from July to December.
Laboring under this grossly mistaken and ignorant notion, he then ruthlessly cancelled many projects that were about to be launched and suspended the work on projects already ongoing. Among these was the P18.7 billion Laguna Lake Rehabilitation and Development project, which was contracted to a 150-year-old Belgian dredging company, one the world’s best. As a result of this cancellation Belgium filed a suit against the Philippine government and diplomatic ties with that old-friend-country soured.
DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson in 2010 cancelled 19 approved negotiated projects worth P934.1 million, funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency. Because of the cancellation local government officials complained that their areas suffered from severe flooding and millions of pesos in crop damage.
Other major projects were cancelled or suspended in 2010. The billions that Congress had properly appropriated for these projects of the Macapagal-Arroyo presidency was then turned into DAP funds and allocated for projects that in President Aquino’s mind were priority activities.
Because of the cancellation and suspension in 2010 of projects that had been launched earlier by the Gloria Arroyo administration there was a lull in spending–from the time shortly after President Aquino assumed the presidency until after he and Sec. Abad made their DAP operational. That lull in spending is what made the GDP growth rate sink from 7.63 % in 2010 to 3.64% in 2011.
Later, with money available from the cancelled projects re-assembled into the DAP funds, government spending for big projects was again in full swing just as during Macapagal-Arroyo times, so that in 2012 the GDP growth rate rose back to the high levels set by President Arroyo—6.82% in 2012 and 7.16% in 2013.
What does this truthful narrative of our GDP growth tell us?
It tells us that President Aquino and Sec. Abad’s claim of being heroes who cured our sick and dying economy by giving it the DAP “medicine” or stimulus is an egregious lie.
For the truth is that they were the ones who starved our robust, strong and healthy economy (7.63% GDP growth rate in 2010 thanks to the Macapagal-Arroyo administration’s work) and made it sick and weak (3.64 % GDP growth rate in 2011).
The Aquino administration, in effect and in truth, caused the Philippine economy to be very sick in 2011, then restored our sick economy to better health–and beat their breasts in triumph for being the rescuers.
He and Mr. Abad are false heroes, Huwad na Bayani (as in the title of the famous play by Virgie Moreno).
President Aquino is like a man who kicked his little daughter from a boat into the sea, the child swallows a lot of water and nearly drowns, and he jumps into the sea to save her life. Photos are taken of his rescue effort and he gets headlines for being a heroic father. But of course God and the daughter know who kicked her into the sea and nearly killed her in the first place.