OUR news story yesterday under the head “Aquino: Promises can’t be achieved” reveals the extent to which we in The Times have tried to understand the mentality of the President.
The story, written by one of our senior reporters, Joel M. Egco, who is also the current president of the National Press Club, began with the sentence: “For President Benigno Aquino 3rd, promises cannot be broken but they certainly cannot be achieved during his term.” This was followed by the sentence: “On Tuesday, Aquino admitted that the fruition of his ‘legacy’ of good governance cannot be seen during his term and that the people can only enjoy its benefits during the time of his successor.” A quotation from him came after that, “If others reaped what we sowed, that is okay. But [my successor]will have a better start and the people can be assured that he will go a long way.”
Listening to the President talk about his administration, his “legacy of good governance” and the so-called “Daang Matuwid” (the righteous path) has become so disconnected from what is really happening that many Filipinos have begun to wonder whether something is wrong with his vision and his appreciation of simple facts and stark reality.
False claim of ‘over-delivery’
On February 18, 2014—four and a half months ago—we had a news item with the headline “I don’t break promises—Aquino.” The story told about how he boasted that his administration “over-delivers” instead of being a laggard in keeping its promises.
He was speaking before businessmen at the 3rd Euromoney Philippines
Investment Forum 2014 in Parañaque City. He gave a litany of economic feats his government has achieved in the first half of his administration and said that it was thanks to his and his team’s work that the Philippines is no longer “the Sick Man of Asia.”
That claim is a sheer lie. For the term “Sick Man of Asia” had long disappeared from the vocabulary of people abroad analyzing the Philippines—even during the term of President Fidel Ramos. During the term of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo the credit rating companies—Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch were already raising our credit rating little by little. Speakers at the World Economic Forum in Davos and European officials were commenting on the good economic performance of the Philippines.
We were in fact one of the few countries whose economy did not get upended by the global economic crisis of 2007-2008, thanks to our “sound economic fundamentals” per the World Bank, the ADB and American observers.
The fact is all the good news now about our gross domestic product (GDP) and the credit risk rating companies having given us good investment grade marks is just a continuation of our economy’s being on a roll since the time of President Arroyo.
And this is largely thanks to our Overseas Filipino Workers’ remittances and good economic management then and now.
New successes in education
We agree, however, that the Department of Education and the CHED have been registering new successes. That the K-to-12 has begun in the regime of President Aquino and many new school buildings have been added are accomplishments he can be proud of.
But he has broken his promises to lead our country on the Righteous Path, to give us a Freedom of Information Act (which would have helped achieve his vow to end corruption and thereby eliminate poverty, Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap) and to have a spotlessly honest administration.
He has in fact allowed corruption to flourish. Just think of the DAP, which he and his Budget Secretary Florencio Abad invented in violation of the Constitution and disbursed illegally. They have refused to have the Commission on Audit examine the disbursements of hundreds of billions of pesos of DAP funds and the PDAF funds that were handed over to congressmen and senators belonging to the Aquino-Liberal Party coalition, and the almost P200 billion of pork barrel funds the President himself disbursed.
He promised us better traffic and transport conditions and praised his Public Works secretary to high heavens in the State of the Nation Address. But our streets are still a mess, the MRT and LRT services have deteriorated so badly.
He promised us rice self-sufficiency. This has not happened. And now the price of rice has skyrocketed.
We can cite a dozen more promises he has broken. But now he tries to muddle our understanding of simple words by saying he does not break promises and it’s only that those “promises he made can’t be achieved during his term.”
Almighty God, please make our president more sincere.