The unexpected praise heaped on President Benigno Aquino III by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for the country’s economic glow under his leadership is a “classic case of the student already surpassing the teacher,” Malacañang said on Saturday.
Undersecretary Abigail Valte, a Palace spokesperson, made this observation a day after Arroyo commended the President for the 6.8-percent growth in the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in the fourth quarter of 2012, while the full-year growth was pegged at 6.6 percent.
Mr. Aquino was a student of the former President in economics at the Ateneo de Manila University.
In a statement issued through her spokesperson Elena Bautista-Horn, Arroyo said the GDP growth was “welcome news,” admitting that Mr. Aquino was “on track (to) restoring the growth of 7.9 percent where it was before the first half of 2010.”
Arroyo, whose term ended on June 30, 2010, vowed to “support (Mr. Aquino’s) policies that (would) translate such policies to poverty alleviation.”
Valte tried to explain where the former President was coming from when the latter said the country was on track to going back to the 7.6 percent growth of GDP before she stepped down to become a representative of Pampanga.
In a radio interview, Valte pointed out that 2010 was an election year.
“Historically, if you look at all the data, growth is (fueled by) election spending. Ask any economist, they’ll tell you the same thing,” she said.
She cited the following government statistics to support her contention that the growth curb was highest in an election year: 1988, (6.8 percent); 2004 (6.7 percent); 2007 (6.6 percent); and 2010 (7.6 percent).
“But when you look at the GDP, if you exclude all the election years, our 6.6 GDP (percent) for 2012 is the fastest growth (that) the Philippine economy has seen in the past 30 years, surpassing all the past presidents, beginning from the former President Cory Aquino,” said Valte.
She did not say in the radio interview why she left out election years 1992, 1995, 1998 and 2001.
“I only mentioned elections years to contrast with ordinary years. I recall NSCB (National Statistical and Coordination Board) released a statement that the 6.6 percent is the fastest growth in the nonelection year in the past 30 years,” Valte told the Inquirer.
A check with the NSCB showed these data: GDP growth in 1992 was 0.3 percent; 1995, 4.7 percent; 1998, -0.6 percent; and 2001, 3.6 percent.
The highest GDP growth—an impressive 10.8 percent—was recorded by NSCB in 1951 during the time of President Elpidio Quirino.
Arroyo assumed office in January 2001, after then President Joseph Estrada was deposed by a military-backed civilian uprising.
She gained a fresh six-year mandate in 2004, but had to dodge allegations of corruption, extrajudicial killings and abuse of power for most of her nine-year presidency.
In the same statement, Arroyo said she “shares the commitment of President Aquino to integrity and opposition to corruption.”