The President began his State of The Nation Address on Monday with these words (excluding “Good afternoon.”):
“This is my fifth SONA; only one remains. We have a saying: Those who do not look back to the past, will never get to where they wish to go. Therefore, today it is only right for us to reflect on what we have gone through.
“This was our situation in the past: To dream was an absurdity. We had a senseless bureaucracy; padded contracts had become the norm; and corruption was endemic to the system. We were known as the ‘Sick Man of Asia.’ The economy was weak; industry was sparse. We failed to gain the confidence of investors. The result: very few jobs were created. We found a people deprived of hope. Many of us had already given up, and were forced to take their chances in other countries. With heads bowed, we had come to accept that we would never be able to rely on our government or our society.”
He lied: To dream was not an absurdity during the presidency of Diosdado Macapagal, Ramon Magsaysay, the first and second Marcos terms and the first years of the Martial Law regime, the years of Corazon Aquino, Fidel Ramos and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
He lied: Our bureaucracy was never perfect, but it was not senseless. Except for those corrupted by politicians, like today’s allies of Mr. Aquino, most government employees are rather good.
He lied: Corruption was endemic, true. But it still is and is even probably worse now than ever before–despite the good international press the “Daang Matuwid” slogan is getting.
He lied: We were not known as the ‘Sick Man of Asia.’ He promoted the belief that we were known as such. He, his spokesmen and his spinmeisters made some local journalists assume that we were known as the Sick Man of Asia in their rosy reports about the economy and soon lazy foreign journalists also began using that lie in their stories.
He lied: The economy was not weak. During the Ramos years we were being called “the tiger cub” economy. During the Macapagal-Arroyo years we survived the global financial crisis that laid low the whole world and we were being praised for being on a growth trajectory because of our “sound economic fundamentals.”
David Pilling, Asia Editor of the Financial Times, on June 11 wrote to correct the Aquino administration’s claims against the Macapagal-Arroyo presidency and claims of being responsible for the GDP success surge these past four years.
“Much of what the government of President Aquino had achieved over the last four years is primarily attributable to Arroyo’s legacy,” Pilling wrote. He also wrote:
“Although his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, was deeply unpopular and accused of overseeing a corrupt administration, much of the improvement in economic fundamentals can be dated to her government.”
Pilling also tried to ease worries that Philippine growth would stop once President Aquino leaves office. “In truth, some of the macro-economic improvements have been the fruit of policy changes outside his administration, particularly at the central bank.”
We are praying for the miracle that the President turns over a new leaf and becomes more honest in his efforts to combat corruption by going after the bad eggs in his Cabinet.
May he become more truthful in assessing the state of our nation—and stop peddling the lie that we were once called the Sick Man of Asia. May he admit that he and his men were the ones who persuaded the international press to give us that label so they could praise him for turning our country into the “Strong and Healthy Man of Asia.”