President Aquino found ‘wanting’
President Benigno Aquino III has been weighed—and found wanting.
Economists, academicians and policy experts belonging to the Movement for Good Governance (MGG) have produced a comprehensive breakdown of Mr. Aquino’s accomplishments and failures in his first year in office.
The result is a barely passing overall score of 4.78, which can be translated as: “Something has been accomplished but is lower than expected.”
MGG rated the President’s performance in seven key areas—corruption, public finance, governance, education, environment, health and the economy—based on his campaign promises and the belated Philippine Development Plan.
“We didn’t judge them based on what we thought they should do. We judged them based on what they said they were going to do,” economist and MGG member Solita Monsod said during a presentation of the findings at the Ateneo Law School in Makati City Friday night.
The overall drive against corruption, Mr. Aquino’s central campaign platform, got a score of 4.8 out of a maximum of 10 points, partly because of the questionable appointment of his friends and ex-classmates to key positions.
“Unfortunately, being a shooting or drinking buddy and/or classmate of the President seems to have been added as a requirement to some posts after his election—which makes for a very mixed record,” MGG said in its 36-page report.
The rest of the scores were 5.8 for public finance, 4.5 for governance, 6.25 for education, 4.7 for environment, 3.0 for health, and 4.4 for the economy. The lowest possible score was zero; the highest, 10.
“The President sets an example of honesty and good intentions,” MGG said. “But a score of 4.78 indicates that many challenges need to be addressed.”
Grading Mr. Aquino in his campaign against corruption involved a total of 10 areas, among which he flunked in the item “strengthening the Department of Justice,” which got only 2.5 points.
He got zero for breaking his promise to push for a Freedom of Information law. MGG said the Palace “justified its flip-flop by alternately saying that ‘transparency doesn’t even require an FOI bill.’”
Binay and Co.
While commending some of Mr. Aquino’s choice of appointees, MGG noted that some officials got positions despite doubts in their “integrity and worse, even competence.”
It cited the choice of Vice President Jejomar Binay as housing czar even if “his reputation for corruption in Makati is widespread.”
MGG said Mr. Aquino also spared Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno and Land Transportation Office chief Virginia Torres—his shooting buddies—despite his promise to hold officials “accountable to the highest ethical standards of public office.”
In contrast, it said, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s authority “seems to have been undermined several times in the past year, with her recommendations weakened or reversed, particularly where friends or political allies of the administration are involved.”
On Mr. Aquino’s fiscal program, MGG said the P325-billion budget deficit was reduced to P314 billion only because the government spent P97.1 billion lower than the original plan.
“Public construction fell by 37.3 percent, government spending for salaries and regular operations fell by 17.2 percent,” it said. “The result of a constricted public spending was an economic growth of 4.9 percent that was lower than expected.”
MGG sounded the alarm on the administration’s public-private partnership programs, a rehash of the existing build-operate-transfer scheme.
“Although PPPs can harness resources and expertise of the private sector in financing capital projects, they cannot bring in revenues that can finance the operations of government,” it said. “Without a strategic and comprehensive approach, PPPs may lead to greater control of the nation’s wealth by the elite.”
In the category of “economy,” Mr. Aquino got the highest score of 7.3 for “inclusive economic growth, but zero on his promise to “review and plan to reduce overhead costs.”
MGG noted that much work was needed in revenue generation, especially after the Bureau of Internal Revenue missed its collection target of 13 percent and scored only 12.1 percent.
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