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The contrast

DEMAND AND SUPPLY - Boo Chanco (The Philippine Star) - June 28, 2021 - 12:00am

“No fake news. No troll army. No cuss words or vulgarity. No rape jokes. No one had to explain what he actually meant.

“Mistakes were made, sure. But he walked the talk, fueled the economy, fought for us and won against China.”

That’s how a Facebook meme by a Jerald Acosta captured the essence of the moment as we mourn the death of our 15th president and suffer the current one.

The contrast is sharp. And it is a contrast that could not be appreciated in our polluted public space until PNoy died last Thursday morning. Duterte has propagated a culture of hate powered by trolls and hopelessly divided our nation.

The past few years saw a president catering to the worst of the Filipino through coarse language, sexist remarks and disregard of the law. Perhaps, another Aquino death will help us recover from all these and get the people united for our common good.

I am not a fan of PNoy, having lost much of my hopes for his presidency during the last two years of his term. I found him too aloof, lacking in empathy and too trusting and tolerant of incompetent people who let him and the country down bigtime.

Many saw the aloofness and lack of empathy as the cacique culture at work. The elites are lording it over and making everyone feel like outcasts. That helped elect Duterte.

I also made the mistake of focusing on the transportation department, the lousiest department under PNoy in terms of performance. But there were other things his administration accomplished overall.

Surprise, Surprise! Shortly after the former president’s death was announced, Rep. Joey Salceda, a stalwart of the current administration in Congress, did the honors of recognizing the accomplishments of PNoy.

First in Rep. Joey’s list is how PNoy’s watch contributed to a stable macroeconomic policy: average real GDP growth rate at 6.2 percent; average annual inflation at 1.4 percent; increase employment rate from 92.7 percent in 2010 to 94.2 percent in January 2016.

Investment on infrastructure was also increased from 1.8 percent of GDP in 2010 to an average of three percent of GDP during his term, with around 3.3 percent in 2015.

PNoy also improved fiscal policy: around P60 billion raised with sin tax reform; became a net contributor to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), making available $251.5 million to the IMF to finance the assistance program – the Financial Transactions Plan (FTP) – for crisis-stricken countries; almost consistent improvement in revenue and tax performance.

Joey didn’t mention it, but the BSP did: it was under PNoy’s administration that we received our first investment grade rating from an international credit rating agency.

In terms of ranking in global competitiveness: In the Economic Freedom Index in 2010, the Philippines moved up to 70th place from 115 when he took over from GMA.

In the Global Competitiveness Index – We moved up to 47th from 85th under PNoy.

In the Global Enabling Trade Index of the World Economic Forum, we moved to 64th under PNoy from 92nd in 2010.

In poverty reduction, Salceda noted that under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, 7.7 million Filipinos were lifted out of poverty; bottom-up budgeting allowed for more resources towards rural and poverty reduction programs.

The K to 12 education reform PNoy initiated allowed the Philippines to be at par with much of the world in terms of years of education.

Other achievements in education: 89,720 classrooms were constructed from 2010 to March 2016, with another 95,429 scheduled for construction. This is coming from a shortage of 66,800 classrooms in 2010 and more than double the number of classrooms built from 2005 to 2009.

The 1:1 ratio of textbook to students was also achieved; 170,000 additional teachers were hired and technical assistance was provided to more than 10 million youths for skills training.

In foreign policy, PNoy went to court over the ownership of key features of the West Philippine Sea, which resulted in a ruling affirming the Philippines’ claims by the Arbitral Court in The Hague; forged a close relationship with the Philippines’ traditional allies, the United States and Japan.

On Public Private Partnerships: he signed Executive Order 8, creating the Public-Private Partnership Center which helped launch PPP projects.

Some PPPs initiated include: the P9.89 billion PPP for School Infrastructure Project Phase 1, which addressed the backlog in the number of classrooms in public elementary and high schools. The project was completed and inaugurated on Jan. 6, 2016.

The P3.86 billion PPP for School Infrastructure Project Phase 2, which constructed 4,370 one-story, two-story, three-story and four-story classrooms. By Oct. 31, 2015, 1,690 classrooms were already completed and delivered to the government, with the rest expected to be completed by the end of 2020.

The P1.72 billion Automated Fare Collection System for the MRT 3 and LRT Lines 1 and 2, a project the Aquino administration approved in 2012.

The P26.5 billion Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3, a 14.8-kilometer, elevated expressway envisioned to decongest traffic in Metro Manila.

PNoy also fully-funded the Bicol International Airport.

But Salceda omitted projects started by PNoy, but rebranded as Duterte projects such as CALAX, PITX, MRT7, LRT2 extension to Antipolo and Mactan Terminal 2.

Actually, PNoy could have inaugurated those projects within his term if the transportation department was better led. So, credit for completion went to Art Tugade and Duterte.

In disaster risk reduction, PNoy integrated the Disaster Risk Reduction/Climate Change Adaptation (DRR/CCA) project in 75 out of 81 provinces; established Project NOAH, which helped local governments plan for hazards.

The poisoned political atmosphere under Duterte is denying PNoy much of the credit he deserves. But his unexpected death has given us pause to recognize what he has done… minus the fear of having our human rights violated.

It’s funny how some people say PNoy’s elitist attitude drove them to Duterte. But five years of Duterte is making people appreciate Noynoy Aquino more.

Maybe, like his father’s and mother’s death, his death signals new political winds blowing. Only time will tell.

Now that we are able to recognize PNoy’s legacy, the sharp contrast with the brutality of our current times, enough to catch the attention of the International Criminal Court, will hopefully wake people up.

 

 

Boo Chanco’s e-mail address is bchanco@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @boochanco

CHINA NOYNOY AQUINO
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