KUALA LUMPUR, Philippines – Aside from allegedly plundering government coffers, former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo now faces a new complaint: causing President Aquino to lose his hair.
Aquino yesterday told overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) here that his thinning hair continues to vanish due to the enormous problems he inherited from the administration of his predecessor.
“You may have seen my picture in 2010. My hair was thicker then,” he told the crowd of more than 500 OFWs who attended Thursday evening’s meeting with the President at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel here.
Known for teasing close friends and colleagues, Aquino’s self-deprecating joke drew cheers and laughter from the crowd.
As in some of his previous engagements, Aquino did not read the speech prepared by his writers. Instead, he had a list of topics that he discussed with his audience.
He recited the litany of sins that Arroyo had committed, starting off with what he described as a “lost decade.”
Aquino was referring to the nearly negligible P12-billion debt the National Food Authority had when Arroyo took over in January 2001, but which ballooned to P177 billion nine years later when she stepped down in June 2010.
Aquino also cited the shortage in classrooms in public schools, but revealed that his administration managed to reach a zero backlog last December and even surpassed by 13 more classrooms the 66,800 target halfway into his six-year term.
Another achievement he told the Filipino community was the robust 7.2 percent gross domestic product growth in 2013 amid the global financial crisis and the series of calamities that hit the country.
Aquino also informed the OFWs that Manila-based Petron now manages around 300 stations out of the more than 500 retail outlets in Malaysia after the company poured a huge amount of investment here in 2012.
He inaugurated the Petron MRR2 Jalan Selayang station here, the first station Petron built following its investment of $610 million to acquire 65 percent of publicly listed Petron Malaysia Refining and Marketing Bhd, Petron Fuel International Sdn Bhd and Petron Oil (M) Sdn Bhd.
These three companies comprise Petron Malaysia which represents the single largest investment by a Philippine company.
Petron Malaysia is a subsidiary of Petron Corp., the largest oil refining and marketing company in the Philippines, which has been operating for the past 80 years.
“The Philippines is different now. We have multinational companies that are investing abroad,” Aquino said.
He added that other Filipino companies have also made their mark in their own fields, like Zesto which has partnered with Air Asia and the Emperador brandy, whose clients include Spain.