Did President P-Noy Aquino do well as President, or badly?

boholano-thumbPresident B.S. Aquino III, “P-Noy,” is ending his six-year term on June 30, 2016. By the result of our May 9 presidential election the people wanted a very different leader to succeed him: Davao Mayor Digong Duterte. And this could mean dissatisfaction with P-Noy’s presidency.

P-Noy’s personally chosen Liberal Party leader-successor, Mar Roxas, lost to Mayor Duterte heavily. But Roxas did quite well compared to Senator Grace Poe, Vice-President  Binay, and especially Senator Santiago. And P-Noy’s and Mar Roxas’ candidate for Vice-President, Leni Robredo, is likely to win over Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos.

The election of Davao Mayor Digong Duterte as our new presumptive President-elect. Let’s see again the partial unofficial tally as of 9:45 P.M. May 11, 2016, representing 96.65% of Election Returns.

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DUTERTE     15,879, 761

ROXAS            9,663,869

POE                  8,913,006

BINAY             5,301,756

SANTIAGO     1,417,450

SENERES             25,066          .

Again, did President P-Noy do badly from June 30, 2010 to June 30, 2016?  We need a comprehensive assessment to accurately answer this question. This has not been done yet but scattered assessments might suggest overall dissatisfaction.

As a lame-duck president, President P-Noy could not get the House of Representatives or the Senate to pass his much favored proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law as his main legacy, although both chambers of the Congress were led by leaders of his majority Liberal Party.

Meanwhile, let’s hear the opinion of well respected economist, former Cabinet member, and Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist, Cielito Habito, who wrote: “A good presidency merits continuity through succession by a leader who would sustain the good work, but a bad presidency is best followed by a successor who would lead differently and correct perceived failures.” May 19, 2016.

“The outcome of the ‘May 9 presidential election’ suggests that more Filipinos saw the need for the latter, as the two presidential candidates widely seen to ensure continuity jointly mustered only less than half (45 percent) of the vote.”

Habito continues in his column. “Still, few would deny that much good has been achieved under the Aquino presidency. Six years of “Aquinomics” has earned the country the appellation of a “breakout nation,” a term coined by financial analyst Ruchir Sharma in his 2012 best-selling book “Breakout Nations.” The term alludes to the clear break between current and past performance, seen in the key aggregate economic indicators of price stability, employment and incomes.

“Over the last six years, the inflation rate averaged 3.3 percent and is now down to 1.1 percent, whereas it averaged 5.8 percent in the preceding six-year period. From unemployment rates of 7-8 percent in the previous period, it averaged 6.4 percent in the last six years and is now 5.8

percent, breaking below 6 percent for the first time in decades. Annual growth in gross domestic product, which also measures domestic incomes, averaged 6.2 percent in the last six years, against only 4.9 percent in the previous period.

“Over the same time frame, the Philippines’ rank in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index jumped 38 notches from 85th to 47th, moving us to within the top one-third of 144 countries rated. The country’s corruption perception index dropped from 134th (out of 168 countries rated) in 2010 to 95th in 2015, climbing a total of 39 slots—the largest jump in Asean and the fourth largest in the world. Our experience has shown that much can indeed be done within six years. So much roads can be built, paved and repaved; schools can be built; and new public facilities can be completed. For example, the 13-station, 16.9-kilometer Edsa MRT 3  line took only four years to build, from October 1996 to the opening of all its stations in July 2000.

“But some things come slow, for reasons that we sometimes bring upon ourselves. Notwithstanding the gains, bringing down poverty convincingly remains elusive. LRT 2 construction started in March 1996, but all stations finally opened only in October 2004, with so much time needed just to settle contractual issues. Right of way and land acquisition issues also slow many projects down, such as the Luzon Grid Transmission Project, which spanned from 1997 to 2005 from procurement to completion. Important legislation can languish in Congress for decades, like the Philippine Competition Act first introduced in 1987, but only enacted in 2015, or the Reproductive Health Law first introduced in 1999, but which became law only in 2012. The National Land Use Act, also trapped in Congress for decades, has yet to see the light of day.

‘Six years is a long time, but may not be enough time to achieve enough momentum toward sustainable growth. That the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) had a 15-year timeline was not sandbagging for laggard countries, but recognition that lasting development takes time. In the Philippine case, natural and man-made disasters slow our development progress. In the Philippines’ Fifth Progress Report on MDGs released in 2014, then Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan explained that the devastation caused by Super-typhoon “Yolanda” was “seen to negate the progress for the MDGs, particularly in poverty reduction.” Conflict-plagued Mindanao is also behind in many of the MDGs. xxxx.”

(By Jose “Pepe” Abueva)



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