Aquino’s ‘politics of division’ hurting economy–CGMA
Thursday, 12 January 2012 21:13 Cai U. Ordinario and Mia Gonzalez / Reporters
FORMER President now Pampanga Second District Rep. Gloria Arroyo lambasted President Aquino’s supposed “obsessive pursuit of political warfare” that she perceived slowed down the country’s economy.
In a paper entitled “It’s the economy, student,” the former president, who is now detained at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center on charges of electoral sabotage, alleged that Mr. Aquino’s “politics of division” reversed the economic momentum achieved during her term.
“Rather than building our nation’s achievement, this regime has extolled itself as the sole harbinger of all that is good. And the Filipino people are paying for this obsession,” she said in a paper presented to the media on Thursday.
Mrs. Arroyo’s paper—and comments—immediately drew reaction from the Palace. Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the former president is merely “sour graping” and that what she issued was a “political manifesto” disguised as an economic paper when she questioned the competence of the Aquino administration in economic management.
Palace officials said the picture of “gloom and doom” being painted by Mrs. Arroyo is in stark contrast to the rosy forecast of business analysts and investors on the Philippines.
Arroyo likewise highlighted her achievements such as leaving the economy growing with an unprecedented 7.9- percent growth in 2010, as well as the construction of 100,000 classrooms and some 9 million jobs created throughout her nine-year term as chief executive.
She noted that the lack of leadership was already seen in the 3.2-percent growth posted in the third quarter of 2011. In the January-to-September 2011 period, the economy only posted a growth of 3.6 percent largely due to weak government spending and lackluster export performance.
To get the economy back on the high growth path, she said it would do the Aquino administration some good if it would bring its attention back to the sunshine industries that will help the Philippines weather the challenges of the 21st century, similar to what her administration had done.
These industries include the Information Communication Technology (ICT) field and the business-process outsourcing (BPO) firms. She noted that reforms under her administration nurtured the growth of this industry and gave young Filipinos the opportunity to make overseas employment a choice rather than a necessity.
“We created appealing employment opportunities by focusing on the development of priority sectors, such as BPO. We need to create more wealth and keep people working here at home. That is why I remained so stubbornly focused on the economy,” Arroyo said.
Further, the former president, also an economist by profession who was one of the professors of Mr. Aquino at the Ateneo de Manila University in the subject of economics, expressed her dismay in the slow rollout of government projects.
Without these infrastructure investments, the country would not be able to maximize its potential in attracting more foreign investors.
Arroyo also said that apart from the slow rollout of projects, including the public-private partnership (PPP) projects, the current administration is also canceling projects “for no good reason.” This, she said, would only attract litigation instead of investments.
“I am alarmed that the pace of infrastructure build-out has slowed dramatically under this administration, with some projects even being cancelled outright for no good reason—such as the earlier-noted flood control projects in Central Luzon—and our country being sued by investors. At a time when we should be wooing their money, we are inviting litigation from them instead,” she said.
Arroyo also chided the Mr. Aquino on higher land productivity, the fight against poverty, education, human resource investments and the environment.
At the current pace of the current administration’s progress in addressing the country’s development concerns, Arroyo said the Filipino people may not also be able to expect any more changes in the remaining five years of his administration.
This is unfortunate, she pointed out since Mr. Aquino had been enjoying so much support as shown by the Filipino people’s votes for him in the May 2010 polls. She said Filipinos deserve better service from the President.
The paper, written by Mrs. Arroyo while recuperating from a series of operations last year, was read to the media by economist Gonzalo Jurado, the former President’s economics professor at the University of the Philippines (UP), at a “colloquium” at the Manila Hotel called for the purpose by Mrs. Arroyo’s staff.
A colloquium is defined as an academic meeting. The Arroyo paper was the only one presented. An open forum followed.
Arroyo also attributed the administration’s “vacuum of vision” to the current “weak” status of the state.
“The symptoms of this weak state are the large gap between rich and poor—a gap that has been exploited for political ends—and a political system based on patronage and, ultimately, corruption to support that patronage,” she said.
Arroyo, who holds a doctoral degree from the UP School of Economics, likewise described the Aquino administration’s slogan, “Kung Walang Corrupt, Walang Mahirap” as “simplistic.”
“If there is no corruption, there is no poverty—this proposition that also tells us that the undeniable persistence of poverty to this day therefore means the continuation of corruption under this administration,” she said.
She advised Mr. Aquino to be “hands-on” after she observed a pattern of “government lethargy” and “nobody-home leadership.”
“This is not the kind of ethics that should be practiced by one who claims to have a genuine reform agenda,” she said.
Arroyo added that the Aquino administration should stop “encouraging gossip about one’s love life in which no one can possibly be interested.”