The first half of President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s term was marked by laudable accomplishments, but the final three years will present tough challenges since he will be facing political and economic storms, according to former Finance Secretary Roberto de Ocampo.
De Ocampo said the last half of Aquino’s presidency will be full of challenges because of the unprecedented devastation of Central Visayas from Super Typhoon Yolanda and the alleged releases of billions of pesos in government funds to fake non-government organizations controlled by Janet Lim-Napoles.
Rebuilding the shattered towns in typhoon-hit areas will take years and the government will need a enormous amount of money to put up new bridges, repair damaged roads and other infrastructure. Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan estimated that the cost of rehabilitation and reconstruction could go as high as $5.8 billion.
“Sure, some might think [the President]has three years more to go, but remember, Typhoon Yolanda and ‘typhoon’ Napoles cannot be solved that quickly,” de Ocampo said. He cited Sen. Joker Arroyo’s statement that the problems generated by the Yolanda and Napoles would take 30 years to resolve.
De Ocampo, who is chairman of the RFO Center for Public Finance and Regional Cooperation, said Aquino will run out of time to resolve the country’s problems because he will not have a “full” three years to address them.
He noted that the second half of 2015 and first half of 2016 will be full of “distractions” as preparations for the presidential campaigns peak.
“Three years? It’s not even three years as [Aquino’s] term would end midyear in May 2016,” de Ocampo said.
“This would really measure his ability to prove if he would be a mere “lame duck” or not,” he added.
De Ocampo agreed with the observation of Philippine Economic Society President Alvin Ang, SMC Global Power Holdings Corp. President Alan Ortiz and University of the Philippines economist Ernesto Pernia that Aquino will also have to face the challenges in the manufacturing sector. The President will also have to attract more investors and prepare the country for the Asean Economic Community integration in 2015.
In his presentation titled “Fearless Forecast 2014,” de Ocampo emphasized that 64.1 percent of the economists and businessmen in the country believe that the Philippines is not ready for the Asean economic integration.