The “working visit” of PNoy to Europe and the United States lasting for almost two weeks turned out to be nothing more than a self-aggrandizing junket. And what better way to stretch the truth about his accomplishments – and enhance his image and importance – than brag before a captive international audience and then demonize his predecessor and favorite arch nemesis Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
In a speech before students and faculty of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, Aquino said: “At the end of [Arroyo’s] regime, our people were so apathetic to all the scandals and issues affecting her, and the government’s inability to effect change, that the overwhelming ambition of many was to leave the country.”
According to PNoy, this is why “an estimated 10 million of our countrymen reside abroad” to work so that they could send their children to school and build their own house, or simply to improve their lives.
The truth, however, is that not much has changed during PNoy’s watch.
Based on government figures, PNoy’s touted “achievements” over the past four years has not dampened the desire or resolve of millions of our countrymen to work or live overseas.
During the last full year of the Arroyo administration in 2009, there were around 1.4 million Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) that were deployed abroad. In 2012, a mere two years into the Aquino administration, the number of our countrymen leaving to work in foreign shores jumped to 1.802 million.
Meanwhile, the number of Filipino workers hired abroad last year reached 1.836 million – the highest ever deployment of Filipino workers – surpassing the 2012 deployment figure.
So if, as PNoy claims, he has successfully “transformed” the country, why have more Filipinos “abandoned ship” so to speak, to seek their fortune overseas during his administration? Why has labor migration remained a necessity instead of a choice for many working-class Filipinos until now?
Speaking before an audience of French policy experts and researchers, PNoy also boasted that the Philippines is a nation whose people have a newfound hope and optimism.
True, Filipinos may be hopeful and optimistic but it certainly isn’t with the Aquino government.
In a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey conducted last month, the net satisfaction rating of the Aquino administration nosedived to a new record low in all geographic areas and across socioeconomic classes following the decision of the Supreme Court declaring the Palace-concocted Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional.
A month before, PNoy suffered the largest decline in his ratings in surveys conducted by both Pulse Asia and SWS amid the growing perception that he is not serious enough in efforts to fight corruption, coupled with allegations of selective justice which saw several Palace allies implicated in the PDAF scam evading indictment.
The plummeting ratings shouldn’t surprise Malacañang. In spite of PNoy’s spiel about the country’s economic gains, unemployment and poverty levels have not really improved during the past four years of his administration.
Adult joblessness, for instance, rose to 25.9 percent last March. The SWS notes that average adult joblessness has always been above 20 percent since May 2005, proving that PNoy’s “tuwid na daan” has not made any significant dent on widespread unemployment.
And while PNoy trumpeted his administration’s economic gains to clueless Europeans, some 55% (estimated 12.1 million) of Filipino families rated themselves as mahirap or poor in the SWS second quarter survey last July.
This explains why many working Filipinos are now voting with their feet – by moving and working abroad.
That’s a minor detail, however, to Palace propagandists who lost no time in praising PNoy’s European and North American excursion a resounding success.
So what has PNoy got to show for his P31.9-million junket? Well, not much.
Soon after arriving at NAIA, PNoy proudly declared that he had secured some US$2.3-billion worth of investments “in the sectors of manufacturing, energy, the IT-BPM sector, infrastructure and transport,” which would supposedly create 33,850 jobs in the country. “Of the $2.38 billion, some $900 million have already been committed, while $1.47 billion are prospective,” he added.
In other words, all that PNoy took home from Europe are “pledges” or the promise of a few European companies to invest in the country, most of which do not actually materialize.
And aside from Malacañang’s media statement that PNoy would be bringing with him some “good news” upon his return to Manila, no Palace official could say the amount of investments he was able to secure from his US trip, if there was any.
That’s because the good news was really about PNoy being able to buy and bring home some of his most desired gun accessories, which he couldn’t find in Manila like optics (i.e. gun scopes), a range bag, an eye and ear protection and a safe.
Now, that’s real success!