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Aquino tells Filipinos: Choose next leader wisely

By: - Deputy Day Desk Chief / @TJBurgonioINQ
President Benigno Aquino III. MALACANANG PHOTO BUREAU

President Benigno Aquino III. MALACANANG PHOTO BUREAU

MANILA, Philippines–President Aquino on Tuesday reminded Filipinos to choose the next leader wisely if only to perpetuate good governance beyond his administration.

The President rang the opening bell at the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) in Makati and cited the PSE index for breaking records.

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“Might I remind you today that the kind of success, the kind of governance we are experiencing can be a perpetual reality, and that our people will make that happen,” he said in his speech at the PSE Plaza.

“I sincerely believe that, next year, Filipinos will choose wisely, and will choose someone who will likewise tread the straight path. Like any other sector, you have a significant role to play,” he added.

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Aquino, who is stepping down in June 2016 after his six-year term, is expected to endorse the administration candidate ahead of the filing of certificate of candidacy for president in the last quarter of the year.

Some of his allies have been pushing for Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II as the administration’s standard-bearer in the May 2016 presidential elections although he has been lagging in surveys.

Vice President Jejomar Binay has consistently topped the surveys but his lead has narrowed down amid allegations of massive corruption during his term as Makati mayor. In the latest Social Weather Stations survey, his public satisfaction rating tumbled to an all-time low.

In his speech, the President observed that the PSE index had gone from “record high to record high” in nearly five years.

“I’m told: 119 in total, with the index breaching the 5,000, 6,000, 7,000 and 8,000 levels. The most recent all-time high was recorded just last Friday, when the index closed at 8,127.48 points, or more than double the index’s value the first time we were here together,” he said.

In jest, Aquino said if there was somebody complaining about the rising stock index it was Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, who had remarked that he could have doubled his stock investments in 2010 had he not joined his Cabinet.

He recalled telling Purisima, “Cesar, if you were not head of the economic cluster—ably assisted by Greg [Domingo]—then perhaps our economy would not be doing so well. We can only conclude therefore that, from 2010 to 2016, your fate has determined that you should be helping our economy grow and deriving satisfaction from helping our countrymen profit from their robust economy.”

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“Perhaps you can all remember this story, as a sign of all the sacrifices those in the Cabinet are making, each time some are ready to pounce on the government for a perceived wrong,” he added.

The doubling of the PSE index was a “sound reminder” of the optimism surrounding the Philippines, Aquino said.

“For instance, I am told that trading activity increased by 40 percent year-on-year, from P457.08 billion in the first quarter of 2014, to P641.59 billion in the same period of 2015. Within that same period, net foreign buying also grew by 182 percent, from P17.33 billion in the first quarter of 2014, to P48.87 billion in the first quarter of 2015,” he said.

The President said he had been bullish on the Philippines “long before we regained our prominence in the global economy, long before we achieved investment grade, and long before the all-time highs the PSE index has recorded.”

“The source of my confidence is the Filipino people. Whether here or abroad, whether populating the stock exchange, studying in technical-vocational training centers, or working in offices around the country, the Filipino people have always been our greatest resource,” he said.

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TAGS: Benigno Aquino III, Economy, Elections, Philippines, stocks
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