AS the term of the 15th president of the Philippines ends this June, many Filipinos are evaluating whether President Benigno Aquino 3rd has lived up to his promises made in 2010 election campaign.
On July 27, 2015, he gave his last State of the Nation Address to the Philippine Congress that marked the final stages of his six-year presidency. Today as he celebrates his 56th birthday, here’s an evaluation if he fulfilled his promises.
In June 2010, President Aquino won a landslide victory, promising to fight corruption and poverty. During his inauguration on June 30, 2010, he promised to transform the government of the country “from one that is self-serving to one that works for the welfare of the nation.”
Popularizing the belief that “if no one is corrupt, no one will be poor”, he said his first priority was to “lift the nation from poverty through honest and effective governance.” To achieve this promise he explained that his government will “have leaders who are ethical, honest and true public servants.”
Besides fighting poverty and corruption, he also promised to make the country “attractive to investors” through economic reforms. He vowed he would “cut red tape dramatically and implement stable economic policies.” He also added that he would also “level the playing field for investors and make government an enabler, not a hindrance to business.”
According to reports, President Aquino has a solid economic record. The country is an emerging economy, stated by world economic experts due to the inflow of foreign direct investments (FDI).
Between January and November 2014, FDI flows reached $5.7 billion that represented a more than 60 percent increase compared to 2013. The economy was also reported to have increased by 6.1 percent in 2014. It may be slower than the 7.2 growth in 2013, and short of the government’s 6.5 to 7.5 target, it was still the second fastest in Asia during that period. But critics said, this economic growth has failed to raise the living standards in the country.
Meanwhile, official figures showed that 25.8 percent of Filipinos were living below the poverty line in the first half of 2014, just 0.5 percent less than in 2009.
According to the Official Gazette, the official government journal of the Philippines, the Aquino government implemented radical transformation in an attempt to improve transparency and accountability. The Aquino government claims to have improved good governance reforms that includes “strengthening the mechanisms necessary for the swift and efficient delivery of services.”
The government also boasts of changing “procurement and budgeting processes to promote efficiency and reduce opportunities for corruption.” It resulted to channeling government funds into social services, health and education.
On the other hand, an opinion poll cited in The Economist published that 46 percent of Filipinos believe Aquino has failed to curb corruption, while 13 percent said he succeeded. The high figure may be attributed to the continuing controversies regarding the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
The DAP, which is a program aimed at speeding up public spending and boost economic growth, and PDAF, which was created to allow legislators to fund small-scale infrastructure, are being accused of misusing public funds.
Whether the Chief Executive’s policies and reforms will prove to be successful in the long run will depend on his successor.