MANILA (UPDATE) - Former President Benigno Aquino III will be remembered well in history due to his policies, several business groups said on Thursday.
Aquino, 61, died on Thursday.
"History will judge President Aquino well because he combined pro-people social policies — modernizing education, expanding cash transfers, for example — with relatively clean government," MBC executive director Coco Alcuaz said in a statement.
"We join the nation -- including many in the business community, who knew him, served with him, or called him friend -- in their sorrow, prayers, and rededication to the people and his legacy...We pray for President Aquino, send our condolences to the family, and thank them for his and their service to the people and democracy," he said.
Aquino's policies meant taxes were used for public services and infrastructure. His leadership has also enticed foreign and local businesses "to make job-creating investments," Alcuaz said.
It was also during Aquino's term that the country received its first investment-grade rating from Fitch Ratings in 2013, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry's president Amb. Benedicto V. Yujuico said.
Foreign direct investment also rose during his term, Yujuico said, adding that "the legacy of President Aquino should live on."
Aquino's administration, known for its transparency and good governance, has resulted in "impressive economic growth" with 4 rating upgrades and a significant increase in foreign direct investments, the Management Association of the Philippines said in a statement.
The West Philippine Sea arbitral ruling is evidence of international recognition, MAP said.
"He generated new respect for the country on the world stage... In creating his place in history, each leader can only hope he leaves something better than what he found. The Philippines which President Aquino left behind was indeed a better place," MAP said.
Independent think tank Action for Economic Reforms (AER) said Aquino was instrumental in passing "hard but critical reforms."
"In particular, he played a key role in pushing for the landmark Sin Tax Reform Law in 2012, which created the momentum for sustained tax rate increases throughout the years. Aside from reducing smoking prevalence, this law created much-needed fiscal space, boosting revenues and leading to rapid economic growth until the pandemic hit," AER said in a statement.
AER said Aquino advanced pro-growth, pro-poor social and economic policies.
The Philippine economy grew steadily during Aquino's term from 2010 to 2016, with the country's GDP growth even hitting 7.6 percent in 2010, and 7.2 percent in 2013.
When Aquino left office in 2016, the economy had a growth rate of 6.9 percent.
The country's growth rate has since slid to 6.3 percent in 2018, and 6 percent in 2019. It posted the worst post-war contraction of 9.6 percent in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
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