Noy to have dynamic last 6 months in office – Palace

Aurea Calica - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang sees a dynamic last six months in office for President Aquino as it makes a final push for programs and projects under the Daang Matuwid or straight path, citing its achievements in 2015 that laid the foundations for positive change and inclusive growth.

“The New Year marks the beginning of another meaningful chapter in the continuing narrative of the Filipino people – it is one that brings a new sense of promise and optimism, as we remain steadfast in treading the straight path in the year ahead. The general sentiment of hope, one that reflects the astounding positive outlook of our countrymen for 2016, as demonstrated by the most recent surveys of Pulse Asia and the (Social Weather Stations), truly encourages the Aquino administration and all Filipinos of goodwill,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a statement.

“May this optimism inspire even greater solidarity, as we contribute to further advancing the agenda of good governance and integrity, not only in the remaining six months of the administration, but even beyond that,” Valte said.

The Palace is also confident that it will not be less empowered.

“As the President has time and again emphasized: Because of our genuine determination to instill positive change, we have gone from strength to strength, gaining the wherewithal to lay the foundations for a society that is just and inclusive,” Valte said.

And by resting faith in each other and in the Lord Almighty, Valte said Filipinos could all look forward to a 2016 that would be prosperous, remarkable and dynamic – one that would serve as an enduring reminder of the country’s commitment to the highest ideals of the race.

The Palace earlier said the administration would work closely with Congress to have its priority bills passed, including the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, before the campaign for the 2016 elections begin in February.

Despite limited time, it expressed hope that lawmakers would consider the importance of the BBL, among other pieces of legislation that need to be passed.

As regards infrastructure and other projects, Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad has assured the various departments and agencies that they could obligate a major chunk of the funds before the election ban in March.

Abad said this year, the government advanced some of the procurement works because it finished the budget early and it was passed by Congress on time.

“So we saved three to four months, substantially obligate the budget before the March 25 deadline,” the budget chief said, noting that for the first time, the Philippines would hit the five percent of gross domestic product global benchmark on infrastructure investments.

Public-Private Partnership Center executive director Cosette Canilao was earlier quoted in a report as saying the upcoming elections should not delay the timetable of PPP projects that were near or past the bidding stage because they secured an exemption from the March 25 to May 8 ban on public works projects from the Commission on Elections.

Canilao said with just six months left before the change in national leadership, the Aquino administration was sticking to its target of awarding 15 projects under the PPP program. She said 12 projects had actually been awarded and only three remain.

As regards its achievements, the Palace cited the following: employment rate at 94.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015, the highest in 10 years; 5.6 percent unemployment rate posted in the fourth quarter of 2015, the lowest in the last 10 years; $16.2 billion in foreign direct investments in the five years under the straight path; GDP growth of six percent in the third quarter of this year; and Philippine Stock Exchange index reaching a high of 8,127.48 points in April 2015.

The Palace also said 89.42 million Filipinos were enrolled in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. as of June 2915; 4.35 million Filipinos were covered by the conditional cash transfer program as of August 2015; budget for education was at P367.1 billion as of 2015; classrooms built reached 86,478 from 2010 to February 2015; 4.39 million tourists arrived from January to October 2015; 4.8 million Filipinos were directly employed because of tourism as of 2014; tax collection hit P1.3 trillion in 2014; inflation at 1.1 percent in 2015; and investment grade remained secure from three international credit rating agencies.

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