MANILA – President Benigno Aquino III has a lot to do in the last two years of his administration, his spokesman said.
Aquino marked his anniversary in office today, 4 years after he ran on an anti-corruption platform summarized by his battlecry, “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.”
However, even his spokesman says the things he aims to do may not even be finished by 2016.
Aquino’s campaign promises – as contained in his 2010 social contract – has yet to be finished, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said.
“A number of them are ongoing. For instance, I can tell you that CCT (conditional cash transfer), we started with 800,000 families or family beneficiaries. We are now at 4.4 million… It’s a work in progress. Everything that we do is a work in progress because the concerns of the country continue to add up,” he said.
He said he will not rate the administration since it will be self-serving.
The past four years, former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was detained for alleged plunder raps, Chief Justice Renato Corona was ousted from office, and Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez resigned even before the impeachment trial could start.
Plunder and graft raps have also been filed against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Bong Revilla.
The government has yet to file cases against its allies.
“There is a process for determining the culpability of the accused whether you are from the administration or whether you are from the opposition,” he said.
As to cases against allies, he said: “The investigation, while we understand the impatience of the public, does take time. This is a process that does take time. We will just have to wait for the DOJ, and the DOJ is committed to finding the truth, finding the bottom of the truth on all these allegations.”
Aquino himself is being blamed for allegedly misusing funds, along with Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, through the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) - a scheme that allowed the Executive to divert realigned savings during the middle of the year from underperforming agencies to other agencies in consultation with lawmakers.
The Supreme Court will soon decide on the constitutionality of the DAP. It earlier declared unconstitutional the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) – Congress’ pork.
When he was a senator, Aquino authored a bill preventing the presidential impoundment of savings.
Lacierda however maintained DAP has been good for the country.
“We strongly believe that the DAP has benefited the country. When we had a very low GDP (gross domestic product), we implemented the DAP and it contributed to the various programs of the government, the various agencies. So we do not believe that there is a double standard when it comes to DAP. Now, it is questioned before the Supreme Court, so we will leave it to the Supreme Court as to its constitutionality. But it is our professed belief that the DAP has benefited the country.”
In terms of governance, the Aquino administration has claimed credit for the passage of controversial measures like the reproductive health and sin tax laws.
The Aquino administration also just signed an Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the United States to allow the latter to have greater access to Philippine military bases amid rising tensions with China.
It has not been able to pass a freedom of information bill -- which watchdogs claim would be a potent weapon in ensuring government transparency.
It has also yet to give the draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law to Congress.
On the other hand, the Philippines has been hailed as a rising economy, but this has been tempered by high unemployment rates.
Thus, the economic growth -- recognized by many credit ratings agencies -- has yet to be felt by the masses.
This couldn’t have come at a better time since consumers are also reeling from rising prices of prime commodities.
“Our credit rating upgrade has allowed business people to avail of the low interest rates to start their business. The government has also attracted big-ticket investments in manufacturing, which will employ a greater number of people. We also have agribusiness, logistics, and other productive sectors that can generate higher employment,” Lacierda said.