Aquino needs to start delivering, business groups say

by Coco Alcuaz, ANC

Posted at Jun 23 2011 12:41 AM | Updated as of Jun 24 2011 02:43 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Two of the country's most influential business groups said they'll give President Benigno Aquino III a pass on his first year but expect action in the next.

Aquino marks his first year in office next week and the country's two biggest survey organizations say his numbers have dropped about 10 points from his first months in office.

 President Aquino’s ratings:

Social Weather Stations November March June
  74 69 64
Pulse Asia October March May
  79 74 71


While the surveys may reflect public reaction to higher fuel and transport prices, the business groups focused on the President's delivery on his "kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap" platform.

Both the Makati Business Club (MBC) and the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) zeroed in on the proverbial big fish they say the government has to reel in.

"We feel that one year is probably enough to build the foundations," MBC Executive Director Peter Perfecto said in an ABS-CBN News Channel interview. "In this next year we've got to move forward. We've got to move forward on the catch-a-big-fish campaign, we've got to bring some people to jail and we have got to make sure some of these cases -- they’ve filed more than 80 cases versus tax evaders and smugglers -- that some of these come to conclusion very quickly.''

"The government should not brush aside the results of the survey but instead take action," he added.

MAP's Jun Palafox said a year in, the level of corruption appears unchanged. While he said it may be a perception problem, he also said people around the President may not be walking his talk.

"On the corruption side it hasn't been addressed effectively, or it was not being communicated how effective the Aquino government is in addressing corruption,'' Palafox said.

"Maybe 11 months was not enough but we believe in the president’s sincerity and honesty but the question is, are some of the people below him or around him on the same page as the President.''

Palafox said the government hasn't cut red tape enough, preserving opportunities for bribery and kickbacks. An architect himself, he cited the process developers and contractors have to endure.

"In the real estate industry or construction industry there are 32 signatures required to get a development permit, from land conversion into license to sell," he said. "And then 12 signatures to get a building permit, so 44 signatures if you are in real estate. So there are 44 opportunities for corruption."

Palafox also expressed disappointment that the government has not yet secured a criminal conviction, while calling on businessmen to help the president identify and catch those who stray from his "matuwid na daan."

"People are sort of waiting for that, no big fish has been put to prison in the past 11 months. Let's help the President expose -- let's not be scared -- expose the corrupt and incompetent.''