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Arroyo to Aquino: It’s the Economy, Student

/ 01:26 AM January 13, 2012

Former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Thursday unleashed a barrage of criticisms against her successor, President Benigno Aquino III, for vilifying her before the bar of public opinion even as she accused the latter of trying to erase her legacy.

In a paper titled, “It’s the Economy, Student,” Arroyo highlighted the gains of her 9-year presidency but derided the performance of the Aquino administration. Mr. Aquino, an economics graduate, was a student of Arroyo at Ateneo de Manila University.

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Arroyo earned her Ph.D. in economics from UP.

“Indeed, it’s so easy to claim achievements that have already been accomplished by others, and take credit for what is there when the one who did the work has gone. Just make sure she is forgotten, or, if remembered, vilified,” she said.

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The paper was read by Gonzalo Jurado, a University of the Philippines (UP) economics professor, at a colloquium-cum-press conference at Manila Hotel.

At the press conference, the Inquirer pointed out that Arroyo was accusing the new political dispensation of the very ills that bedeviled her presidency and for which she was unable to resolve.

The paper focused on themes such as “The economy I turned over,” “The politics of division,” “Our dream of growth,” “Sunshine industries,” “Infrastructure,” “Land productivity,” “Our children,” “The poor,” “The Environment,” and “Presidential Drudgery.”

Arroyo, now the representative of the second district of Pampanga who is under hospital arrest for electoral sabotage, left no stone unturned in her critique of Mr. Aquino contained in a 19-page “economic paper.”

Encouraging gossip

“Neither the President nor anyone else can truly expect to govern the next five years with nothing but a sorry mix of vilification, periodically recycled promises of action followed by lethargy, backed up by few, if any, results, and presumptuously encouraging gossip about one’s love life in which no one can possibly be interested,” Arroyo said.

According to her spokesperson, Elena Bautista-Horn, Arroyo’s message to Mr. Aquino is to start fulfilling the role of a Chief Executive now that Arroyo is incarcerated.

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Arroyo wrote the paper “in her spare time” during her recuperation, hospitalization and hospital detention between

October and December 2011.

This was Horn’s reply when asked how Arroyo managed to write a paper amid the tumult brought about by her attempt to flee the country ostensibly to evade prosecution for alleged corruption and abuse of power during her presidency.

“Maybe because she has time and she’s alarmed by what’s happening, and she’s an economics professor,” Horn said.

Character assassination

In the paper, Arroyo defended the gains of her administration in the economic, educational and political spheres.

At the same time, she blasted Mr. Aquino for allegedly systematically erasing her legacy by the “use of black propaganda and character assassination as tools of the trade.”

She said Mr. Aquino had no “will and the skill to properly navigate such uncertain waters.”

She was referring to the various crises that confronted his administration starting with the bungled Luneta hostage situation in 2010, failure to rescue Filipino drug mules from death row in China and to promptly evacuate Filipinos after the Japan earthquake, and inability to ensure the safety of overseas Filipino workers during the unrest in Libya.

High poverty

Arroyo scored Mr. Aquino for the continued high poverty incidence and his failure to shield the country from the global economic crisis by his “flip-flopping” economic policies.

Noting that she left Malacañang in 2010 while the country was experiencing a 7.9-percent economic growth, Arroyo pointed out that the country’s growth in the third quarter of 2011 was only 3.2 percent.

“The momentum inherited by President Aquino was already slowing down, and despite his initial brief honeymoon period, he has simply not replaced my legacy with new ideas and actions of his own,” she said.

Weak state

In her assessment, the Philippines was now a “weak state” with an allegedly absentee President observing a “nobody-home leadership.”

To prove her point, Arroyo claimed that the Aquino Cabinet had met only four times last year.

Arroyo also slammed the “politics of division” for the current economic slump.

“The gains achieved by the previous administrations—mine included—are being squandered in an obsessive pursuit of political warfare meant to blacken the past and conceal the dark corners of the present dispensation. Rather than building on our nation’s achievements, this regime has extolled itself as the sole harbinger of all that is good,” she said.

Fancy cars, gun culture

Arroyo said the people were “paying for this obsession,” including the “excesses of a presidential clique that enjoys fancy cars and a gun culture.”

Asked whether Arroyo was expecting Mr. Aquino to solve what she herself had failed to do so in nine years, Gary Olivar, a former deputy spokesperson of Arroyo, said:

“Each President is responsible for adding his or her stone to the national edifice … which all of us as Filipinos are involved. The same for her, the same for the current President, the same for everybody else.

“But to attempt to tear down instead of building upon what has been done before; to attempt to represent that the whole thing started with you, and there was no history before you; that’s really presumptuous,” Olivar said.

Jurado pointed out that Arroyo had accomplished something. “That’s all she’s saying. Now, has she accomplished everything? Far from it. Everybody must make his contributions,” he said, adding:

“Our problems are there all the time. The problems of the country are there. We must slowly conquer them until we have more or less fully … conquered them.”

Failing grade

Jurado, currently the vice president for finance and a director of Kalayaan College in Quezon City, had given Arroyo the highest grade of “1” when she was still his student at the UP School of Economics.

Asked about Mr. Aquino (Arroyo’s former student), Jurado said he would give him a failing grade of not even “5” but “10.”

“Things are bad,” Jurado said. “Don’t forget your task No. 1. And the (former) President is saying, ‘you’re (Mr. Aquino) not doing that.’ You have no plans.”

Decline in rule of law

Ironically, when Arroyo stepped down in 2010, the Washington-based Freedom House (http://freedomhouse.org/) had not lavished Arroyo with praises.

Freedom House, “an independent watchdog organization that supports the expansion of freedom around the world,” noted a downward trend in the rule of law in the country.

The annual “Map of Freedom in the World” that year rated the country as “partly free” for the following reasons: Prevalence of political violence, corruption and cronyism, culture of impunity, efforts to undercut the opposition movement, unresolved Moro conflict, and killings and harassment of members of the press.

Freedom House said that “rule of law in the country is generally weak” amid a backlog of more than 800,000 cases in the court system which, it said, “contributes to impunity, and low pay encourages rampant corruption.”

“Reports of arbitrary detention, disappearances, kidnappings and abuse of suspects continued in 2009. Mounting evidence has confirmed the military’s responsibility for many of the numerous killings of leftist journalists, labor leaders, and senior members of legal left-wing political parties in recent years,” Freedom House said.

It added that “convictions for extrajudicial killings are extremely rare, and not a single member of the military has been found guilty of such a murder since Arroyo took office.”

Originally posted at 03:33 pm | Thursday, January 12, 2012

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TAGS: Benigno Aquino III, Economy, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Government, Politics
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